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Full text of "Susan Drummond : a novel"

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SUSAN DRUMMOND, 



SUSAN DRUMMOND 



^ "^ODCl. 



MRS. J. H. RIDDELL, 



AUTHOR Ol- "THE SENIOK I'AUTXEK, "GEORGE GEITII, OF FEX COURT, ETC. 




7.V THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. III. 



LONDON : 
RICHARD REXTLEY & SON, NEW BURLINGTON STREET. 

I^^ublisbcrs iit ^rbinarg to Jcr J|lajestg tlje ^nun, 

1884. 



[The right of Translation and all other rights reserved.'] 



9^2 5 



CONTENTS. 



CUAP. PAGE 

I. — A Great Suepeise 1 

II. — Without Foils 2S 

III. — Beyond His Steexgth 65 

IV. — '•' How Much ahe Yor Sorry .^ " . . . 92 

v.— His Price 125 

VI. — Ox THE Marine Parade .... 146 

VII. — What Mr. Gayre Wished . . . .173 

VIII. — '-Have You Ever Been to Tooting?" . 102 

IX. — Awakening 231 

X. — Lucky at Cards, Etc. .... '2^yQ 

XL — The Lesser Evil 2S2 

XII. — •• All for Love and the AVorld Well Lost I '' 311 

XIIL— Anything but Pleasant .... 325 

XIV. — Mr. Gayre Thanks Heaven . . . 343 

XV.— Conclusion 377 



SUSAN DRUMMOND. 



CHAPTEE I. 

A GREAT SURPRISE. 

g^i^ACKING the many admirable qualities 
Ijtli which — if the Baronet's own report of 
himself might be relied on as correct — rendered 
Sir Geoffrey such an exampler and benefactor 
to his fellow-men, Mr. Gayre was never 
unduly anxious to part with money, even 
when he saw a chance of getting a good 
return. It would have been difficult, 
however, before a month was over, to name 
any sum within reason he would have refused 
to pay, if by doing so he could have rid 
himself of that dreadful Old Man of the 
Sea, Oliver Dane. The petition was on 

Vol. iii. 44 



2 S USAX DR UMMOND. 

his mind the last thing at night, and woke 
him long before dawn. It strolled by his 
side to the Bank, went to luncheon and 
returned to dinner ; though it failed to eat 
itself, and effectually deprived him of all 
appetite, it sat at the table as long as he 
did, and only rose when he made a move, 
in the vain hope of ridding himself of its 
company. 

Life was not worth living with that petition 
locked away in his safe. It would have 
required a great reward to compensate him 
for the humiliations heaped on his head in 
the matter of Mr. Colvend's defaulting clerk ; 
and there were times when Mr. Gayre 
believed he should get no reward whatever. 
Though he saw Susan often, though the most 
intimate and friendly relations were estab- 
lished between them, the banker could not 
blind himself to the fact that it was Oliver 
Dane, and Oliver Dane only, the girl con- 
sidered : Oliver Dane lying for six months 



A GEE AT SURPRISE. 3 

at Millbank ; Oliver Dane soon going to 
Portland; Oliver Dane convicted thief and 
forger ; Oliver Dane, in whose behalf he, 
Mr. Gayre, was compassing heaven and 
earth in order to obtain signatures he did 
not know what he should do with when he 
had got them; Oliver Dane, whom he hated 
with a detestation rare even amongst bosom 
friends ; in whose guilt he had always 
beheved, and whom he certainly did not 
imagine he was ever likely to consider 
innocent. 

He felt weary to death of the man, the 
case, and the petition. He would have 
liked to argue out the matter at considerable 
length with Susan, and try to convince her 
how erroneous were all her plans and 
projects in connection with the great Oliver 
Dane question, but for the certainty that 
their first conversation on the subject would 
be their last. 

"It's just 'take it or leave it,' with Susan 

44—2 



4 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

now," declared Sir Geoffrey. " Never saw a 
girl so changed in all my life. Faith, I 
always thought there was something stiff 
about that short upper lip of hers, but I 
little imagined my lady would develop so 
hard a mouth. Gad! except as a sign to 
bolt, she minds the bit no more than a silken 
thread. Why, she was nearly having a spar 
with me the other evening because I said I 
was afraid the pardon would have to be sent 
down to Portland after all. What progress 
are you making, Gayre? " 

But Mr. Gayre utterly declined to say 
what progress he was making, or whether he 
was making any. In answer to the Baronet's 
question he used some strong language, and 
expressed his heartfelt regret he had ever 
meddled in the business. 

" For, supposing the sentence should be 
commuted — and I for one do not see the 
slightest likelihood of anything of the sort 
happening — Miss Drummond's very first act, I 



A GREAT SUB PRISE. 5 

foresee, will be to make our interesting 
convict marry her." 

" Oh, hang it, Dane's not such a cad as to 
do that?" 

" I fancy he is a cad ; but, in any case, 
you'll find she'll have the hcense and every- 
thing ready for his appearance. It is pleasant 
to see a girl in earnest ; but I really cannot 
think that your young friend will find life 
agreeable under the circumstances I have 
indicated." 

"I tell you I know Dane, and even for 
gratitude's sake he would not let Susan throw 
herself away on him." 

" And I tell you I know something of 
women, and I declare to you that she will 
marry him (even if he does not want to 
marry her), for sentiment's sake." 

" Then had you not better drop that 
petition business altogether ? " 

" I should have done so long ago, if I had 
not, in an evil hour prompted by some demon 



6 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

— you, I believe — promised to do my best for 
this eligible lover." 

" Surely it would be doing your very best 
to let him stay where he is. What could any 
rational being want more? Fed, lodged, 
clothed at the expense of his country- ; 
large, airy house ; regular hours, resident 
chaplain, medical attendance, free of charge ! 
Better let Dane enjoy these advantages till 
Susan is married, at any rate. Afterwards 
something might be done — he can't be in any 
hurry for a year or two — and if a free pardon 
were got, the lad could then be slipped out 
of the country. Perhaps you yourself might 
not grudge a trifle to set him up in some 
decent trade at the Antipodes." 

Mr. Gayre turned and looked at his 
brother-in-law steadily, as if trying to read 
his thoughts. 

Sir Geoffrey, on his side, returned this 
scrutiny with an expression of calm and 
satisfied innocence, which Mr. Gayre seemed 



A GEE AT SURF RISE. 7 

to find hard to contemplate, for he said at 
last, with angry decision, 

" I have promised, and it is not my prac- 
tise to keep a promise to the ear and break it 
to the heart." 

'• Most creditable, I am sure," answered 
Sir Geoffrey, drawling out the last word so 
as to make almost three syllables of it. 

" Whether creditable or not, such is the 
fact." 

'' I never suggested otherwise. All I mean 
is I trust you may have a better gaol deliver- 
ance than I fear Dane is likely to meet with. 
The whole thing seems to chafe you terribly, 
Gayre." 

Which was indeed the fact. Never in all 
his life before had the banker gone through 
such an experience. Hitherto when he 
asked a favour, friends and strangers alike 
had seemed only too pleased to grant it. To 
do anything, no matter how slight, for Mr. 
Gayre, was once in the City esteemed both an 



8 S USAN BR UMMOND. 

honour and a pleasure ; but now, words 
could scarcely describe the change that all in 
a moment had come over popular opinion. 
A cold wave of amazement and disapproval 
flowed steadily from every commercial quarter 
towards Gayres. Why should a man in the 
banker's position interest himself about so 
flagrant a case ? The culprit was no kith or 
kin or friend of his. His acquaintance with him 
had been no closer than that he presumably 
maintained with the favoured clerk of any 
other old and valued customer. The young 
fellow could not for a moment be supposed 
innocent. He had deceived an employer who 
never missed an opportunity of doing him a 
kindness. He had been found guilty after a 
long and fair trial. If the sentence were 
heavy it was not too severe. Forgery and 
embezzlement were crimes which could only 
be put down with a strong hand ; other clerks 
would hear and tremble ; young fellows tot- 
tering on the brink of temptation would step 



A GREAT SUBPBISE. 9 

back in time ; employers feeling their interests 
were considered might take heart and resume 
some little of their wonted confidence. 

What the deuce — what the did Gayre 

mean by trying to upset justice, and get up a 
false sympathy for a most deceitful and 
unprincipled young man who, having dee])ly 
sinned, was now most justly suffering? 

" Not so long ago he'd have swung for it, 
sir," remarked one City magnate to his fellow ; 
" and I'm not at all sure but the old way was 
the best way too. The gallows and a little 
quicklime were an effectual way of stopping 
this sickly sort of sentiment. Once a man 
begins steahng he'll go on steahng — can't 
help it ; and Ga^jre ought to know this as well 
as anyboby. Sign the petition ! Did / sign 
it, do you say ? Not I. " You really must 
excuse me," I observed, to Gayre, " but it's a 
thing I wouldn't do for any consideration 
whatever. Wliy, it's subverting the whole 
constitution of Great Britain. No, I am very 



lo SUSAN BRUMMOND. 

sorry to refuse the son of my valued friend 
any favour ; but you see this is not a matter 
of time or mone3\ It is a question of prin- 
ciple. I have a duty to discharge to my 
brother merchants. How should I be able 
to look them in the face if I espoused the 
cause of a felon against his employer ? Why, 
the case might have been my own or yours : 
How on earth could you ever prosecute one 
of your people, after doing your utmost to 
defeat the ends of justice as you are doing?" 
Wretched Mr. Gayre had thought this diffi- 
culty, and indeed all other difficulties con- 
nected with the matter, out alone with his own 
heart. He knew that attempting to play the 
part of Good Samaritan towards a clerk 
would be regarded as an act of wicked 
quixotism by the collective wisdom of Mark 
Lane and Capel Court. Many things might 
be forgiven a man in his position, but inter- 
ference with vested rights was not one of 
them. He had done himself incalculable harm. 



A GBEAT SURPBISE. ii 

and he had not done OHver Dane any good. 
The chances of the " unfortunate nobleman 
then languishing in prison " for a mitigation 
of sentence seemed quite as good as those of 
Mr. Colvend's ex-clerk. Mr. Gay re felt very 
weary and worn. He had done a great 
many things he would much rather not have 
done, and yet Susan remained as far from him 
as ever. He knew he was losing instead of 
gaining ground. The long talks, the confiden- 
tial conversations, the hours spent in fruitless 
discussion, and still more useless retrospec- 
tion, were full of nothing but Oliver Dane. 
The air might be different, but the words 
were ever the same — Oliver, Oliver, Oliver! 
Susan had once held her peace concerning 
her lover till she deluded Mr. Gayre into the 
belief that thought of man born had never 
agitated her gentle breast. But now the 
string of her tongue was loosed she spoke 
of little else. The volume of life for her 
contained but one name ; all interests, all 



1 2 SUSAN BE UMMOND. 

hopes, all fears, were bound together with 
a single clasp, upon which was graven the 
story of one man's sorrows. All this did 
not recommend itself to Mr. Gayre. He 
would not have cared so much had he dis- 
cerned one sign of love or even liking. 
Gratitude there was, but it seemed rather 
anticipatory gratitude for some favour to 
come than appreciative understanding of 
the enormous trouble the banker had already 
given himself. With that intuition which 
so rarely deceives women, Susan had long 
before discovered her friend neither liked 
nor believed in her lover ; whilst upon Mr. 
Gayre's mind there was gradually opening 
that vast field of speculative observation 
filled by the selfishness of an unselfish 
woman. 

In those days Susan had no more thought 
to spare for any one free to come and go, 
to laugh and be merry, than a mother nurs- 
ing her sick child has for some healthy waif, 



A GREAT SUB PRISE. 15 

stout of limb and sound of lung. The prison 
containing Oliver Dane was to her the 
whole miserable world ; the man pent within 
those cruel walls the entire human race. 
Susan could think of nothing, talk of nothing, 
except him and his trouble. It was but an 
aggravation of the trial that she should be 
at large whilst he was in confinement. If her 
lover had not been a rival Mr. Gayre must 
have found the constant iteration of his 
name, and the eternal harping on one subject, 
wearisome ; but, as matters stood, he felt 
he was fast reaching the limits of his- 
patience. 

To jest openly with a power like Gayres 
seemed at the first blush, little short of 
profanity. Nevertheless, the banker found 
himself exposed to broad hints and sly 
allusions, which greatly tried his equanimity- 

"I understand there's a pretty face in 
the question, eh ? " said one ex-Lord 
Mayor, who thought his twelve months of 



1 4 8 US AN DR UMMONB. 

office had conferred grace to liis manners 
and a pleasing elegance to his diction. It 
was even whispered in City circles the air 
of the Mansion House had so affected his 
brain that, finding sober prose inadequate 
to express lofty imaginings, lie broke into 
verse, and indited a ditty, entitled " The 
Aged Beggar : an Idyl of Threadneedle 
, Street." 

He was a dreadful person, who, if he 
once got hold of even a faint similitude to 
a joke, worried and played with it as a 
puppy worries and plays with some useless 
rag. When his friends hoped he had for- 
gotten the wretched thinor he went off at 
score and dug it up again. Even in an 
ordinary way Mr. Gayre avoided him as he 
would the plague ; but now avoidance was 
impossible. His late lordship, as City wags 
facetiously dubbed him, which title they 
often exchanged for " The Aged Beggar," 
would not be denied. Wlien from afar Mr. 



A GEEAT SUHFlilSE. 15 

Gayre saw his portly form looming in the 
distance he ignominioiisly tried to avoid 
tlie encounter by turning down some con- 
venient court ; but such cowardly tactics 
usually proved useless. The former chief 
magistrate's knowledge of the City was at 
least as exhaustive as the banker's ; and 
he found no difficulty in executing a flank 
movement of considerable ingenuity, and 
appearing at the supreme moment from an 
apparently blind alley or deceptive door- 
way. He had signed the petition, and 
therefore felt himself free to make merry 
at Mr. Gayre's expense. 

" I'd advise you to be on your guard," 
he said one day in a stage whisper, meet- 
ing the ex-officer in Copthall Court. " They 
do say she was the widow ; " and then, 
with a fat laugh, which set his sides shak- 
ing, he passed on before Mr. Gayre could 
resent his remark. 

Godless and graceless young stockbrokers. 



i6 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

too, who had not the fear of Gayres' before 
their eyes, were in the habit of offering to 
append their names to any paper — not a 
bill-stamp — if Mr. Gayre would procure 
them a sight of Dane's " young woman." 
Altogether it was horrible. Oftentimes the 
banker felt beside himself with anger. His 
very clerks he fancied were laughing at 
him in their sleeves. He was a mere butt 
for cockney wit ; and through some 
horrible fatality, Susan's name had cropped 
out, and become a very shuttlecock for 
men, who could not comprehend the 
purity and grandness of her self-imposed 
task, to toss from lip to lip. 

By almost imperceptible degrees, also, a 
doubt as to the correctness of his own 
opinions on the Dane question was stealing 
across Mr. Gayre's mind. By a slow process 
of reasoning he was arriving at the con- 
clusion Susan had long before grasped in- 
stinctively, that an enemy's hand might be 



A GREAT SUBPBISE. 17 

traced in the transaction. Things had hap- 
pened since the trial inexpHcable on any 
other ground. Proved guilty and punished, 
the man and his sin would, in an ordinary 
way, have been forgotten ; but for Oliver 
Dane there seemed, indeed, no rest. Stories 
were circulated about him which Mr. Gayre's 
common sense resented as untrue. Mr. 
Surlees' utterances concerning their former 
clerk were characterised by a stinging bit- 
terness that seemed to the banker hard to 
explain. Mr Colvend's attachment to, and 
sorrow for, the young man could, according 
to Mr. Surlees, only be regarded as evidences 
of a weakened intellect ; whilst Susan her- 
self was stigmatised as a sort of adventuress, 
who, " I feel no doubt whatever, was Dane's 
accomplice in the matter. So far as 1 am 
concerned, I regret that we did not proceed 
against her as well." 

This was awful. Mr. Gayre remained 
speechless with indignation; and it was not 

Vol. iii. 45 



1 8 S US AX DB UMMOND. 

till Mr. Surlees went on to say, " I advise 
you to be careful what you are about. Take 
my word for it, this Miss Drummond is a 
most dangerous and unprincipled person," 
that his anger found vent in words. 

How he expressed the rage burning within 
him he never subsequently could remember. 
All he knew was he and Mr. Surlees parted 
in hot anger ; and when, during the course 
of the same afternoon, Mr. Col vend called 
to try to make peace, his well-meant efforts 
resulted in signal failure. 

Altogether, nothing but humiliation and 
irritation resulted from his attempt to " sub- 
vert the British Constitution, and defeat the 
ends of justice." 

It was discovered a clerk had been in- 
geniously robbing the bank for some con- 
siderable time, but Mr. Gayre felt literally 
afraid to prosecute. He had never loved 
Ihe City, but now he grew to hate it. The 
pavements of Lombard Street, and the pur- 



A GEE AT SUEPRISE. 19 

lieus of the Exchange, were mere haunts of 
terror. He dreaded the sight of his fellow- 
men, if those fellow-men had offices within 
sound of Bow Bells ; whilst for Susan — the 
labour of Sisyphus was not more discou- 
raging than the endeavour to win smiles from 
a woman who refused to smile, whose faith 
in her lover never swerved, and whom 
absence only made fonder ! 

So far as the petition went, Mr. Gayre felt 
he had got all the signatures he was ever 
likely to obtain. Some great names were 
appended, but the longer he contemplated 
the paper, the less hopeful he felt on the 
subject of ultimate success. He stood, 
indeed, between Scylla and Charybdis : if 
he failed, Susan would blame him in her 
heart ; and, on the other hand, he did not 
wish to succeed. Xo prospect, indeed, could 
have seemed less pleasant to him than the 
idea of Oliver Dane's reappearance in the 

world of free men. 

45-2 



20 S US Ay DB UMMONB. 

" I had better have given up all thoughts 
of the girl the moment I found out she was 
fond of the fellow," he considered, irritably. 
" Somehow I have botched the whole thinc{, 
and every step I take only seems to lead me 
further into the mire. Supposing I could 
prove him innocent to-morrow, how would 
that better my position ? I am not working 
for Oliver Dane, but for Nicholas Gayre ; 
and I am as far from my object — farther, 
indeed — than I was the first day. I think I 
shall keep away from Islington for a week, 
and try the effect ; she will long to talk to 
some one, and must miss me, even for that 
reason. Yes, I shall stay away." 

It was the last evening of that week, a 
Sunday night. He had not seen Susan for 
one hundred and sixty-eight endless hours. 
He had refrained from writing or calling ; 
and having just returned from church, 
whither he had gone to kiU time, he sat 
beside his hearth, thinking about the man 



A GREAT SURPRISE. 21 

who was now at Portland — considering what 
he was doing, how he felt, how any human 
being could face the prospect of seven years 
of penal servitude and — live. 

" It is awful," he said, almost aloud. 
" And suppose, after all, the fellow should 
be innocent ! " 

He rose uneasily from his seat, and began 
to pace the room with slow and measured 
steps. 

His hands were loosely clasped behind his 
back, his head was bent a little forward, his 
whole attitude, his whole expression, that 
of a man engaged in deep and unpleasant 
thought. 

He was, in fact, reviewing the whole 
matter from the commencement, and facing 
the question of what he should feel to be 
his duty supposing he were once really 
persuaded of the prisoner's innocence. 

" If the matter rested with me, now for 
instance," he thought — " if I had the proofs 



22 S US AN DB UMMONB. 

in my hands, how should I act ? That is a 
question I might once have answered without 
any hesitation ; but now — However, he 
is not innocent, and I have no proofs. Who 
can that be ? " he added, as the sound of a 
modest double rap broke the stillness of the 
quiet house ; " not Sir Geoffrey, I hope." 

A minute elapsed. There seemed parleying 
in the hall ; then his servant entered the 
room bearing a card. 

"The gentleman" (there was just the 
slightest touch of hesitation in the way he 
spoke this word) " says he wishes to see you 
on business of importance. He will not 
detain you long, Colonel." 

" Samuel Fife ? " said Mr. Gayre, reading 
the name printed on the card ; " I wonder 
who Samuel Fife may be ? " 

" He says you know him, sir." 

" Does he ? I wonder if I do. Show him 
up into the drawing-room ; I will be with 
him directlv." 



A GEE AT SUBPBISE. 23 

" The name seems somehow familiar, and 
yet I cannot associate it with any one," he 
added to himself. "Fife — Fife !" and then Jie 
opened the drawing-room door, and entered. 

Under the chandelier stood a short, stiffly- 
built, middle-aged man. He was dressed in 
his Sunday clothes — a rough top-coat, dark 
trousers and waistcoat, thick serviceable 
boots. He held his hat in his hand, and 
looked up somewhat nervously as Mr. Gayre 
appeared. 

" Good evening," began the banker. " To 
what am I to — Why, it is you, is it? he 
added, in a tone of intense surprise. " What 
do you want with me — why do you come 
here?" 

" I wrote to you a while ago, and you 
took no notice of my letters." 

"I never heard from you in my life, so 
far as I am aware." 

" yes, you did. I wrote to you three 
times, signing myself ' Justice.' " 



24 -Sf US AN BR UMMOND. 

" You are ' Justice,' then. I see." 

" Why did you not send me any reply ? " 

" Why should I reply ? Why should I take 
any notice whatsoever of anonymous com- 
munications ? " 

"It was true what I said, though, Mr. 
Gayre." 

" That Dane was innocent, and you could 
prove him to be so ? " 

" Yes." 

"In that case why did you not speak 
before?" 

"I should not speak now if I had been 
properly treated." 

" Have you not been properly treated ? " 

" No." 

"Will you not sit down, Mr. Fife? If 
we are to talk — and it is unlikely you would 
have come here unless you intended to 
talk — you had better do so." 

"Do you recollect what I said in my 
first letter ? " asked Mr. Fife, as he sat down 



A GBEAT SURPRISE. 25 

on the corner of a sofa, glancing at Mr. 
Gayre, who had flung himself into an easy- 
chair. 

" I recollect you said in all your letters 
you wanted money. It is not an uncommon 
want ; you are not singular, Mr. Fife. 
Many persons desire money ; but there are 
not many who get it." 

" Will you give me what I asked for ? " 

" That is not a question I can answer off- 
hand. Upon the whole, however, I think 
I may say I do not think I shall give you 
any money." 

" If you are sure of that I will go to Miss 
Drummond." 

"Why did you not go to her first — 
supposing always you have not been to 
her ? " 

"I thought I could go to her after 
I had tried you. I knew it would be 
useless coming to you after I had been to 
her." 



26 SUSAS BRUMMOND. 

'' Eeally, Mr. Fife, your candour is quite 
refreshing." 

'^I am o'lad you think so." 

'' I do think so ; though I cannot in the 
least imagine why you come to me " 

'' I come to you," interrupted Mr. Fife, 
with startlino' directness, " because you are 
in loYe with Miss Drummond — because you 
can make her marry you if you prove 
Dane innocent — because it will be worth 
your while to pay me icell for the card I 
can place in your hand." 

''I do not know which I admire most — 
your frankness or your impudence." 

" It is not impudence, Mr. Gayre ; and 
you are as well aware of the fact as I am. 
As you have asked me to sit down I pre- 
sume you mean to entertain the matter. 
In a word, I have something to sell; will 
you buy it ? You know my price ; does it 
suit you ? " and, shifting his position, he 
took possession of a music-stool which 



A GEE AT SURPRISE. 



27 



chanced to be close to the chair in which 
Mr. Gayre lay back, his legs stretched out, 
and the tips of his fingers idly touching each 
other. 








CHAPTER II. 

WITHOUT FOILS. 

r^jUjijiHEEE ensued an awkward silence. 
The one man did not want to 
speak — the other would not. 

At length the spell was broken by Mr. 
Gayre, who said, without looking at his 
visitor, and as if his words were merely the 
outcome of a long course of exhaustive 
reasoning. 

"You see, some one must criminate him- 
self." 

]\ir. Fife laughed. "You don't trap me 
that way," he answered. 

" Believe me, I had no intention of trap- 
ping you. I was only stating a fact." 

" 0, of course. I quite understand that ! " 



WITHOUT FOILS. 29 

" K we are to discuss the matter at all, 
Mr. Fife, permit me to suggest you must 
do so in a different spirit." 

" I don't know," answered Mr. Fife, " that 
I feel disposed to discuss the matter further. 
In effect, there is nothing to discuss. I have 
told you plainly, Dane is innocent, and that 
I can prove his innocence. I have told you 
I want to be paid for my information, and 
the price I expect from some one. It does 
not much signify to me who pays that 
money, but I should imagine it signified a 
great deal to you.'' 

Mr. Gayre winced. The man's tone, the 
man's manner, seemed terrible to him. He 
had never been spoken to with such offen- 
sive familiarity before, even by his equals ; 
and as he shot a glance aside at Mr. Fife, 
and remembered the former cringing de- 
ference of his address, it came home to his 
mind more fully than ever that he was 
wading through very dirty water indeed. 



30 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

and that lie had better get out of it as 
soon as possible. 

" I think," he said, " I would rather wash 
my hands of the whole business." 

" Just as you like. I suppose, however, 
you have fully considered what washing 
your hands, as you call it, exactly 
means ? " 

" I fear I scarcely follow you." 

Mr. Gayre's voice was freezing in its cold 
respectability. 

" I don't believe you do. Now listen. 
No, you needn't look so indignant. I mean 
no offence. Eemember you are not in 
Lombard Street now ; and if you were, I 
want nothing out of your strong room 
except a sum of money, for which I am 
willing and anxious to give you full value. 
We're man and man at this minute, sir. I'm 
not Samuel Fife, manager at Colvend and Sur- 
lees ; and you're not Nicholas Gayre, banker. 
We're equals, that's what we are — equals. 



WITHOrr FOILS. 31 

If there is any disparity in our respective 
positions, the turn of the scale is in my 
favour, for I have something you want to 
buy, and that you can't buy from anybody 
but me." 

During the deUver}^ of this address, Mr. 
Gayre faced the speaker in amazement. 
As he did so, it dawned upon him that 
though Mr. Fife was not drunk, he had, 
according to his own simple vocabulary, 
been " priming himself." 

Had Sir Geoffrey been present, he would 
have read the " abandoned miscreant ; " a 
lecture concerning the wickedness of per- 
sons imbibing who " could not carry their 
liquor decently ; " but Mr. Gayre, though 
utterly abstemious, did not feel himself 
such a saint that he dare adventure upon 
any argument concerning the sinfulness of 
Mr. Samuel Fife. 

Instead of entering into that question, 
he remarked. 



32 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

"I do not know that I want to buy 
anything." 

"Well," said Mr. Fife, nowise discon- 
certed by a statement meant to be crush- 
ing, "you had better know whether you 
do or not during the course of the next 
fifteen minutes. Time is getting on. It 
now" — and Mr. Fife produced a white- 
faced silver watch — "wants exactly ^iyq 
minutes to nine o'clock. If by ten minutes 
past nine o'clock you. Miss Drummond's 
friend, have failed to decide what you are 
going to do, I shall not trouble you 
further. There," added Messrs. Colvend 
and Surlees' manager, in beautiful con- 
tinuation, at the same moment laying his 
silver watch and steel chain on a table 
at Mr. Gayre's elbow, "is the time — 
Post-office." 

"In the name of Heaven," cried poor 
baited Mr. Gayre, "why should you sup- 
pose all this concerns me?" 



WITHOUT FOILS. 33 

"Better invoke the name of the Deity, 
sir," suggested his unwelcome visitor, with 
bibulous solemnity : " in that case I should 
answer, with no beating about the bush, 
I suppose "all this" concerns you greatly. 
You're in love with the girl — that's what 
it comes to. If you can lay your hand on 
your heart and say honestly you are not, 
why, the sooner I go to Miss Drummond 
the better. She'll pay me my price, I 
know." 

" If you are so sure of that, why do 
you trouble me? Why did you not go to 
her direct?" 

"There are wheels within wheels," 
replied Mr. Fife, loftily. "I have my 
reasons, which I do not intend to tell you 
— not yet, at aU events — perhaps never. 
Now, Mr. Gayre, are you making up your 
mind, because I am determined to settle 
the matter one way or other before I 
sleep?" 

Vol. iii. 46 



34 SUSAN BBUMMONB. 

"I have made up my mind on one 
point," said the gentleman so peremptorily 
addressed, " namely, that I will not pay 
one sixpence till you furnish me with 
some proof you really do possess the 
knowledge you profess." 

" That is fair enough ; but on the other 
part, I do not show my hand without 
something binding on your side. Give 
me the merest scrap of writing as 
evidence of your hona-fides^ and I'll tell you 
what I know." 

"But what you know, or think you 
know, may turn out practically valueless." 

" Upon my soul, I believe you do not 
want the fellow proved innocent. I think 
if his release rested with you he might 
stop in gaol for ever — rot there before 
you would lift a finger to get him out ! " 

" I trust you wrong me, Mr. Fife. At 
any rate, you must allow me to observe 
your own anxiety on the subject is not so 



WITHOUT FOILS. 35 

disinterested you have any right to at- 
tribute such ungenerous feeUngs to me." 

"Pooh!" retorted Mr. Fife; "that is 
all very fine, but we both know more of 
the world than to believe much in 
generosity or disinterestedness, or any 
such humbug. What you are afraid of 
now is, that when Dane appears once more 
on the scene. Miss Drummond won't marry 
you. Neither she will, if / tell her. She 

will marry Dane, him ! But make a 

fair bargain with me, and the game is in 
your own hands. ' Take me,' you can say 
' when I obtain your lover's release ; refuse 
me, and my gentleman remains at Portland 
for the term to which he was sentenced.' " 

" What a scoundrel you are, Mr. 
Fife ! " 

"I am not a hypocrite, at any rate. 
And why should the girl not marry you ? 
She will have everything money can buy, 
except a conceited empty-headed puppy 

46—2 



36 S US AN jDB UMMOXD. 

without a sixpence to bless himself with. 
And she deserves a better fate ; for, though 
I don't care much for that style myself, 
she is good-looking and has as nice manners 
— I'll say that for her — as any woman I 
ever spoke to." 

"Have you spoken to her?" The 
amazement in Mr. Gayre's tone was not 
complimentary. 

" Eather ! I lodge in the same house : 
if I take a thing in hand I do it 
thoroughly ; and I wanted to make sure 
of my ground before I came to you. 
There has been nothing more than 'Good 
Morning,' or ' Good Evening,' or ' It's 
cloudy,' or ' What a wet day we have 
had!' but it was enough. Her voice 
is soft, and her ways sweet. She'll make 
you a very suitable wife ; and though, to 
be sure, you are not young, I daresay 
you'll make her a very good husband." 

"Mr. Fife, you shall hold no further 



WITHOUT FOILS. 37 

communication with this most faithful and 
unfortunate lady ! " declared Mr. Gayre, 
rising in hot wrath. "If only to save 
her from the degradation of hearing you 
mention her lover's name in her presence, 
I will pay the exorbitant sum you exact 
as the price of your shameful secret." 

" Come, that's to the point at last. 
Hard words break no Vjones, and it is per- 
fectly immaterial to me why you find the 
money, so long as you do find it. If you 
have a piece of paper handy, just write 
that, upon my proving the fact of Oliver 
Dane's innocence to your satisfaction — " 

"You must do more than that," inter- 
rupted Mr. Gayre. 

"Well, word it any way in reason you 
like. rU give you the key, but you must 
do the rest yourself, remember. Say, when 
Samuel Fife has given you the means 
of proving Oliver Dane's innocence to 
the satisfaction of Messrs. Colvend and 



38 S US AN BR UMMOND. 

Surlees, you will hand him over an open 
cheque — " 

" I will give you a bank-note ; I wouldn't 
write your name on a cheque." 

" Dear me ! but it is of no consequence ; 
a note will do just as well. Now, if you 
put that into form, and sign it (I'll not 
ask for a witness — I don't believe you will 
try to shuffle out of your bargain), we can 
get to business — " 

"I almost wish I had not passed my 
word." 

"Ah! but you have, you know: and 
besides, though you may choose to break 
your promise, I shan't break mine. Make 
any further objections, and I see Miss 
Drummond before I sleep." 

Chafing with anger, more thoroughly 
furious perhaps than he had ever felt 
before in his life, yet supported by the 
determination to do a right and unselfish 
action, Mr. Gayre intimated that writing 



WITHOUT FOILS. 39 

materials being in his study, an adjourn- 
ment had better be made to that apart- 
ment. 

" It does not matter to me where the 
thing is written, so long as it is written," 
said Mr. Fife, with easy impudence. " I 
have made up my mind for this throw, 
and I do not want to waste any more 
time before making a clean breast. You 
have a very fine house here," he added, 
as he descended the stairs ; " but it needs 
one other piece of furniture, a handsome 
wife. You'll have that before long, though, 
no doubt ; and I know whom you ought 
to thank for it ; " and he laughed as he 
turned his head and looked at Mr. Gayre, 
who had much ado to refrain from kicking 
him to the bottom of the flight. 

Something of this feeling must have shown 
in his face, for Mr. Fife proceeded to make a 
sort of apology. 

" Don't mind me to-night," he remarked. 



40 S US AN BE UMMOND. 

" I'm mad ; that's what I am. I'm going 
to cut my own throat. I mean to do that 
which will force me to leave Colvend's. 
Perhaps you would like to know why ? Wait 
a little. That's in the story as well." 

"I do not feel at all sure that I am 
doing right in entering into any compromise 
with you," said Mr. Gayre, as, after carefully 
closing the library-door, he motioned Mr. 
Fife to a seat, and, taking a chair himself, 
began to write. 

" That is a pity," commented Mr. Fife, 
with a smile. 

" Are you aware you have made no stipu- 
lation with regard to your own safety ? " 
asked Mr. Gayre. 

" Yes, I am aware of that ; " and his 
smile grew broader. 

"I thought I would just mention the 
fact," said the banker. 

" Very kind of you. In common grati- 
tude, I think I ought to give you a hint ; 



WITHOUT FOILS. 41 

don't let your young lady get an inkling of 
how you are going to lielp her lover till you 
have made everything safe as regards your 
own marriage. If you do, she'll find a way 
to slip out of her agreement. They're all 
alike : so long as a man can give or get 
them something they want, they'll purr 
round him, and be pleasant and winning as 
a child looking out for sweets ; but the 
moment he has served their turn, it's 
' Thanks, so many ; ' and the pace isn't 
known, quick enough to their fancy to 
take him out of their sight." 

Mr. Gayre ceased writing, and contem- 
plated the speaker in astonishment. 

" Your knowledge of the sex seems 
almost exhaustive, Mr. Fife," he observed. 

" I can't tell whether 3^ou are chaffing me 
or not ; and I don't care," answered that 
gentleman. " There is one thing, however, 
I will say — that, let you know women as 
you may, I know them better." 



42 SUSAX BBUMMOXB. 

"The usual thing," remarked Mr. Gayre. 
" You generalise concerning the sex from 
one example." 

" Never mind what I do, but remember 
what I say. If you don't, you'll repent 
it." 

"Before I sign this paper, there is one 
question I fear I must ask." 

"What is it?" 

" There are no other defalcations ? " 

" So far as I am aware — none." 

" Do you object to ni}^ embodying that 
statement ? " 

" Not in the least ; " and Mr. Fife laughed 
outright. 

" Will this do ? " inquired the banker, 
wondering what Mr. Fife had found so 
amusing in his question. 

" Yes, that will do ; a lawyer, I daresay, 
could pick a few holes in it ; but friends 
ought not to be too particular. With your 
good leave, I'll just put it in my pocket- 



WITHOUT FOILS. 43 

book — SO. That's clone," he added, drawmg 
a breath of relief; "and now for my part of 
the pact. You conchide I forged that 
signature, Mr. Gayre ? " 

"1 should not have ventured exactly to 
make such a suggestion, but, as you are 
kind enough to do so, I hope you will excuse 
my frankness when I answer ' Yes.' " 

" Beyond annexing a cheque I had nothing 
to do with the matter." 

" Indeed ! " 

*' Truth, I assure you — gospel." 

" Then perhaps you will tell me who did 
write the name of the firm ? " 

" Certainly ; there shall be no reservations 
on my part. The party — or, to speak more 
accurately, the lady — was christened Theo- 
dora Alberta Colvend ; but she is usually 
called ' Dossie ' by a fond and foolish 
parent." 

" Good Heavens ! " exclaimed Mr. Gayre. 
" Good Heavens ! " 



44 S US AN DR UMMO^D. 

" And ' Good Heavens ! ' again, if you 
like," said Mr. Fife ; " my information seems 
to surprise you, sir. If you remember, I 
more than hinted my knowledge of women 
was greater than yours." 

" But why should she ? Why should any 
woman do such a wickedness ? " 

" Name the devil that eggs women on to 
commit any and every sin. You can't. 
Well, what do you say to jealousy ? Miss 
Dossie was madly jealous of your pink and 
white beauty, and, as she was afraid to throw 
vitriol in her face, she decided to put Mr. 
Oliver Dane out of the way of matrimonial 
temptation for some time." 

" And you helped her ? " 

'' I helped her." 

" And what possible motive could you 
have ? " 

"Ditto to Miss Dossie's. Scarcely that, 
however; for though I did, and do, hate 
Mr. Oliver Dane, he might still have been 



WITHOVT FOILS. 45- 

walking tlie streets a free man so far as my 
enmity was concerned." 

" You wanted, then — " 

" I see you are beginning to understand. 
I wanted Miss Dossie — that was the bargain. 
She promised to marry me, and like a fool, I 
believed her — yes, I believed her." And Mr. 
Eife broke off with a muttered oath, and 
something between a gulp and a gasping 
choking sob. 

" Surely she is not worth that," said the 
banker, regarding him with quite a new 
interest. It seemed strange that an exterior 
such as Mr. Fife's should cover joys, sorrows, 
hates, loves precisely the same — save only, 
perhaps, that they were more intense — as 
those, for example, which dwelt within the 
breast of Nicholas Gayre. 

" You're right enough ; she's not worth it 
— she's not worth that!'' and Mr. Fife 
snapped his fingers — " not worth one thought 
of an honest man ; and before God, Mr.. 



46 S USA2f DE UMMOND. 

Gayre, I was honest in word, thought and 
deed till she laid her fiendish spells upon me. 
However, all this has nothing to do with 
you ; only I want you to think of me here- 
after as not quite an outcast. I'll be bound 
now you fancy I'm going to take all that 
money as the mere price of what I know ? " 

" You ask awkward questions, Mr. Fife." 

" Never mind that ; answer me truthfully, 
if you don't object." 

" As you press me so strongly, I am afraid 
I must confess the idea you have suggested 
has crossed my mind," said Mr. Gayre, 
delicately. 

" Wrong again ! " laughed Mr. Fife. " Had 
I seen my way to earning even a hundred 
a year, once Colvends gave me marching 
orders, I'd have told you the whole story 
long ago with the greatest pleasure ; but a 
man can't starve, can he ? " 

Feeling many better men than his visitor 
had starved, and fearing lest even so general 



WITHOUT FOILS. 47 

a statement might commit him, Mr. Gavre 
decided that, both in the interests of cour- 
tesy and prudence, he would be wise to hold 
his tongue. 

" I'm taking your money on the principle 
of self-preservation, which, as you know, is 
the first law of Xature," proceeded Mr. Fife, 
taking silence for consent. 

" And mean to go abroad with it, no 
doubt ? " suggested Mr. Gayre. 

" I don't mean to tell either man or 
woman where I'm going," answered Mr. Fife, 
in a sudden access of caution. " I think I 
may safely say you'll see me no more ; and 
that is about all you'll get out of me con- 
cerning my future movements." 

" Certainly I had no right to make any 
inquiry as to your intentions ; and I beg 
your pardon for having done so." 

" 0, no offence ; I'm not at all a touchy 
fellow. What was I talking about ? 0, 
that young jade, Miss Theodora. If you 



48 5 U8AN BB UMMOND. 

only knew — if you could only imagine — liow 
she led me on and on and on ; upon my soul, 
Mr. Gay re, there was a time when you might 
have thought she liked the ground I walked 
on. It was not easy to get me to do what 
slie wanted ; but there are words, looks, and 
tones no man with blood in his veins can 
resist : I could not, at any rate ; " and Mr. Fife 
started from his chair, and took a couple of 
turns up and down the room before he 
resumed his narration. 

" I am a fool," he said — " I was a fool ; 
for though I never in my heart believed she 
cared for me, or for any created being except 
herself and Oliver Dane — and for him only 
• because he would have nothing to do with 
her — I let myself be led by the nose till she 
had got her turn served." 

" Other men have been treated in the same 
way," said Mr. Gayre. " The story is as old 
almost as creation." 

" And when I claimed my reward," went 



WITHOUT FOILS. 49 

on Mr. Fife, unheeding this interruption, " she 
laughed in my face. Since, I have wondered 
often I did not kill her. I wish now I had 
struck her down where she stood, with a 
mocking devil in her eyes and a sneer on her 
lips. ' Marry you ! ' she said, ' marry you I 
That is an honour I really must decline.' 
And she wasn't afraid, though we were alone 
on Wimbledon Common, and there was not a 
human being but ourselves within hail. 
You've seen her, Mr. Gayre ? " 

The banker nodded. 

" Well, you know she looks as if a 
breath would blow her away. You might 
span her waist ; I beheve she is so light I 
could hold her on my palm stretched out like 
that ; " and Mr. Fife thrust across the table a 
hand of which a prize-fighter need not have 
been ashamed. " Often and often Fve 
watched her coaxing and making much of 
the old man, till any one might have thought 
there was not such an affectionate, tender 

Vol. iii. 47 



50 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

soul on earth. ' My poor Dossie ! ' he 
would say, ' my dear, tender, little Dossie ; 
she's such a clinging, timid darling.' Cling- 
ing ! timid ! " repeated Mr. Fife, with wild 
scorn ; " I never saw the thing she was 
afraid of yet, except of not getting what 
she wanted." 

" It is strange she was not afraid of you^'' 
observed Mr. Gayre. 

"When I found she would not give me 
anything for love, I tried the other tack with 
her ; but I might as well have held my peace. 

I said I would tell her father. ' He won't 

_ -I* 

believe you,' was her answer. ' I'll show him 
your letters.' ' The person who could forge 
the name of the firm could write any number 
of letters.' ' But I did not forge the name of 
the firm.' 'Ah, that you'd have to prove,' 
she said. 'Mr. Surlees would believe me 
even if your father did not.' ' He might ; 
but you won't try to make him believe you.' 
' Why won't I ? ' ' Because you would lose 



WITHOUT FOILS. 51 

your situation ; you would not be permitted 
to retain it an hour.' " 

" The weak point, then, in your evidence is 
that if Miss Colvend choose to deny the 
statement in toto, you have no means of 
proving her comphcity." 

" I hadn't ; I have now. The cheque, if 
you remember, was presented by a woman." 

" Not Miss Colvend ? " 

" No ; her maid. She had a situation 
ready for the girl to drop into. The very 
next day she went out to India as atten- 
dant upon a lady who was going to join her 
husband. Miss Colvend sold a quantity of 
jewelry to make things square with Adela." 

" Adela will have to be found, then , I sup- 
pose ; and when she is found perhaps she 
may deny the whole story." 

" no, she won't. She is back in London. 

At the Cape, news met the lady that her 

husband was dead ; so she took the first 

vessel home and brought Adela with her. I 

47—2 



LIBRARY 

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 



52 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

met the girl quite by chance, and, from a 
word or two, I know she would be glad 
enough to get the matter off her con- 
science, if only she could be sure of not 
being thrown on the world." 

" How did the notes get to Dane's 
lodgings ? " 

" i do not know ; but I fancy Miss Colvend 
herself slipped them into the letter-box." 

There ensued a pause — longer even than 
that which had prefaced the gist of the con- 
versation. Mr. Gayre, in his turn, rose and 
paced the room, while Mr. Fife watched him 
anxiously. No greater change could be 
imagined than that which had taken place in 
the manager's look and bearing. He was not 
anxious now concerning money, for he knew 
whatever course Mr. Gayre elected to pur- 
sue the slip of paper in his pocket-book 
represented money's worth. But he was 
playing for another stake as well. And if 
the banker decided to take no action in the 



WITHOUT FOILS. 53 

matter, he would, he felt, rise from the game 
a loser after all. 

He grew weary with following the tall 
erect figure, of hearing that leisurely mea- 
sured tread, of trying to gain from the 
banker's inscrutable face some vague idea 
of what was passing through his mind, ere 
Mr. Gayre, pausing suddenly, said, 

" I do not see my way at all." 

" No ? " 

" The whole story is such an improbable 
one." 

" It is true, though." 

"I am not impugning your word. 
Still, you yourself must admit the tale you 
have told me has not exactly the ring of 
true metal." 

" That depends on whether you wish to 
believe the gold sterling or not. If you don't, 
Mr. Gayre, I will give you back your paper 
and go straight to Miss Drummond. Even 
supposing she . should have gone to bed, I 



54 S US AN DB UMMOND. 

know she will get up to hear what I pro- 
pose to say to her." 

" Why should I wish to disbelieve you ? " 
asked Mr. Gayre, looking Mr. Fife sternly 
and steadily in the eyes. 

" Because," replied the other, with a 
resumption of his former boldness — " be- 
cause you are afraid to think Dane innocent. 
You are afraid of yourself; you want to 
fancy you would ' do right, let come what 
may,' as the French say (I daresay I can 
read French as well as you, Mr. Gayre), 
and you know you won't do right. Why 
should you ? The girl will be a thousand 
times happier if she marries you than as 
Dane's wife. He is a rackety chap ; he 
can make the money spin. I don't mean 
to say there is much vice about him ; but, 
upon my conscience, he can go a pace. 
So far as I know, he was never in the habit 
of frequenting races ; but he had something 
on every one — Derby, Oaks, Ascot, Good- 



WITHOUT FOILS. 55 

wood, St. Leger, and jolenty more. He, 
and that Hilderton fellow too, did go to 
some very queer places — places I wouldn't 
be seen in. Of course you'll do as you 
please ; but were I in your shoes, I wouldn't 
get a waster out of prison only to marry 
him to a young woman in whom 1 took 
an interest. In my opinion it would be 
sinful ; but, without doubt, you know best." 

" Your feeling towards Mr. Dane seems 
something malignant," observed the banker. 
" Without meaning any impertinence, I 
really should be glad to know how he lias 
injured you. Even according to your own 
showing, he paid no attentions to Miss 
Colvend, neither did he in any way en- 
courage her fancy for him." 

" A true bill on both counts," answered 
Mr. Fife. " And I don't much mind an- 
swering your question. I suppose you 
wouldn't call me a handsome man, now, 
would you ? " 



56 SUSAN DEUMMOKD. 

" I am scarcely a judge. I feel no doubt, 
however, there are many ladies in whose 
eyes you would find much favour." 

"That's chaffing." 

" I assure you nothing was further from 
my intention than chaff of any kind." 

" Well, at any rate, I am not handsome, 
and you know it. She said I was like 
Quilp, or the Black Dwarf, or that other 
ugly fellow in Victor Hugo's Notre Dame.'' 

" I think Miss Colvend was wrong in 
fact as well as in taste." 

" Thank you. I don't believe I am quite 
so bad as she made out. I pleased her 
well enough so long as she was making a 
tool of me ; but, however, that's not the 
question now. You want to know why 
I dishke Oliver Dane. I'm short, and 
broad, and plain. I haven't a good feature 
in my face. I'm a common-looking fellow, 
according to Miss Dossie ; and for once, 
most likely, she spoke the truth. He, on 



WITHOUT FOILS. 57 

the contrary, is the right height for a man ; 
not too tall — he is some inches shorter 
than you — yet tall enough. He has a 
straight nose — thank Heaven, that has been 
brought to the grindstone ; he has dark- 
blue eyes ; he has brown hair cropped 
close — it is cropped closer now ; he has 
the ' sweetest ' moustache — curse him ! he 
has hands white and soft as a lady's — a 
use he never expected has been found for 
them lately ; he is ten years younger than 
I am ; he can dance ; he can sing ; he 
can ride ; he can row ; he can shoot ; he 
can do anything, in a word ; yet he has 
not half my brains or any of my steadiness. 
He is a mere popinjay ; but he was pre- 
ferred before me. I have served Mr. 
Colvend faithfully since I entered his house ; 
yet I was left out in the cold, while Dane 
was petted and pampered and done well 
by. Miss Dossie would have blacked his 
shoes if she could have won a smile from 



58 S USAN BE UMMOND. 

him. Not a soul came into the office but 
I knew went out of it thinking, ' What 
a deUghtful manner that young Dane has ! ' 
If there were any halfpence going, he got 
them ; but the kicks were all given to me. 
It was hard measure, and you can't deny 
it." 

" As you put the matter, perhaps so ; 
yet I do not suppose you would have been 
in much better plight had such a person 
as Oliver Dane never existed." 

"I am not so sure of that. If Mr. Col- 
vend did not love, certainly, once upon a 
time, he valued me. In those days it was 
' Fife, I wish you could call there ; ' or 
' Fife, if you can spare time, just run along 
and see to this ! ' But, bless your soul, 
once Mr. Dane, with his soft hands and 
well-kept nails and hair parted down the 
middle (I hope the Portland barber has 
altered that parting) and white teeth, came 
into the house, times were changed for your 



WITHOUT FOILS. 59 

obedient. And he wasn't the makmg of 
a business man-; he hadn't it in him. I 
swear to you, Mr. Gayre, if I were a mer- 
chant and wanted a clerk, I wouldn't give 
him a hundred a year. It was only that 
plausible manner of his drew men to him, 
as aniseed will rats. I don't much like 
the smell of aniseed myself, and I never 
took to Mr. Dane's manner." 

Mr. Gayre smiled, with a cynical relish 
of this frank revelation of human weakness. 
He could afford to smile, beheving, as he 
did, himself above all human weakness. 

" Give me three days," he said, " and 
I will tell you my decision." 

" Great Heavens ! " exclaimed Mr. Fife, 
striking his clenched fist on the table so 
vehemently that everything upon it trem- 
bled, " do you mean to tell me you need 
three days, or one, or an hour, to decide 
what you intend to do now the game is 
in your own hands ? " 



6o S l'i>Ay DR UMMOND. 

"I cannot see that it is. In the first 
place, it may be difficult to convince Mr. 
Colvencl of the truth of your statement." 

"Then try Mr. Surlees," advised Mr. 
Fife, with an unpleasant grin. 

"And in the next place," went on the 
banker, as suavely as though this advice 
had not been tendered, " it is possible I 
may not care to stir in the matter at 
all." 

"That is very likely. By ^! that's 

what I thought from the first. You fancy 
you will yet be able to win the girl, if 
you only keep her and her lover apart 
long enough ; but you're wrong. Time 
won't make her forget him. Faith, were 
I a woman," he added maliciously, " I don't 
know that I should forget his handsome 
face in a hurry myself! Make your bar- 
gain. You'll be doing the girl a real 
kindness, and you'll be doing Dane himself 
a good turn, by giving him his liberty. 



WITHOUT FOILS. 6i 

Don't you be afraid the voung woman 
won't marry you. She'd marry me on the 
terms ; and if she had a little more money, 
that is a view of the question I should 
certainly entertain." 

" Thank Heaven, she has not more money, 
then I " exclaimed ]\Ir. Gayre, almost in- 
voluntariiv. 

"So you mayi; you see it leaves the 
field open for you," retorted Mr. Fife, wil- 
fully misinterpreting the banker's remark. 

"At the end of three days — say Wed- 
nesday night — you shall have my answer," 
repeated Mr. Gayre, meanly taking refuge 
in simple assertion, and declining further 
contest with an adversary able to hit out 
so straight from the shoulder and hit so 
mercilessly. 

" I feel very much disposed to cut the 
knot by going to Miss Drummond to-night." 

" You would have taken that course at 
first if, for some reason best known to your- 



62 SUSAN DBl'MMOND. 

self, it had not seemed more desirable to 
deal with me." 

" There is considerable truth in that state- 
ment," was the cool reply. "Well, I will 
give you till Wednesday ; only understand 
one thing, Mr. Gayre — I'm not going to 
take your mone}' and hold my tongue. 
Either you tell all I have told you to Colvend 
and Co., or I shall do so." 

" Evidently you take me to be such 
another as yourself," said the banker, more 
angry than he would have cared to confess, 
spite of the chivalous resolution he had 
formed. 

"il take you for a man," answered Mr. 
Fife, lifting his shabby hat and putting it 
on defiantly ; then, as he left the room, 
he turned to Mr. Gayre, who was prompt- 
ly ringing the bell, and said with jeering 
insolence : 

" If you don't ask me to the wedding, I 
hope you will send me a good slice of the cake." 



WITHOUT FOILS. 65 

" Tliank God ! " ejaculated Mr. Gayre, 
drawing a long breath, as the door slammed 
behind his unwelcome visitor, and looking 
round the room rid at last of Mr. Fife's 
presence. 

Then he sat down, and, his head sup- 
ported on both hands, remained for quite 
half an liour buried in profound thought. 
All at once he rose, and, like one in some 
violent hurry, went into the hall, took down 
his top-coat, put on his hat as determinedly 
as Mr. Fife had done, and was marching 
straight into the night, when his servant 
hastily appearing, said : 

" You are surely not going out, Colonel ; 
it is pouring in torrents ! " 

The " Colonel " never answered, but, 
flinging wide the door, passed out upon 
the doorstep, where he was met by a fierce 
gust of wind and a perfect deluge of rain. 

" Shall I try to get a cab, sir ? You will 
be wet through before you get twenty yards." 



64 S USAy DR VMMOyD. 

Again Mr. Gayre did not answer. He 
looked up and down the street, then at the 
black vault above his head, and the pelting 
storm. 

" It would be madness," he muttered. 
" I could not ask to see her, soaked to the 
skin. I must defer the matter till to-mor- 
row ; " and re-entering the house, he passed 
into the library, which he paced till the 
night was far spent. 




CHAPTEE III. 



BEYO^T) HIS STRENGTH. 



the woman who deliberates is lost, 
^^mS) the man who hesitates does not lag far 
behind her on the downward path. When 
Mr. Ga}Te put on his coat he meant to go 
straight to Susan, and tell her what he had 
heard. Casting temptation behind him, he 
resolved to do the right, " let come what 
would." 

Money, time, influence, all — all should be 
spent in unlocking the door of Oliver Dane's 
prison. He would not palter with his own 
conscience — he would not tell specious lies 
to his own soul, and profess to be thinking 
of the girl's happiness whilst he was really 
seeking to compass his own selfish ends. 



VoL iii. 



48 



66 S US AN DE UMMOND. 

He would not give with one hand and 
take with the other. In honour and honesty 
there was but one course to pursue. At the 
price he would have to pay for her, even 
Susan Drummond must be considered too 
dear. That which was proposed to him 
seemed worse than anv crime ; it would be 
more cruel than seething the kid in its 
mother's milk to sacrifice that tender heart 
in the fire of its devoted affection. 

If he was base enough to insist upon the 
condition suggested to him, how could he 
ever again look in those trustful brown eyes 
— red with weeping, dim with tears — touch 
the hand which had once lain close in 
that of her lover, kiss the lips he had seen 
quiver when she spoke of the ruin one 
day's work had wrought in his life ? Such 
a sin might not be done — by him. Another 
— a different man, perhaps — but there he 
stopped in his mental sentence. The very 
strength of the temptation, the very deter- 



BEYOND HIS STRENGTH. 67 

mination he had to call up to resist that 
temptation, warned him he was in mortal 
peril. He was fighting for more than life — 
for right, for self-respect, for everything 
valuable to a human being, save that which 
he felt to be a part of his soul, and which 
might never, never now be aught to him — 
never for ever. Till that moment he had 
only faintly grasped what Susan was to him. 
Daily, hourly, the vision of her married to 
another, after the first terrible moment of 
grim revelation, grew less and less distinct, 
till it seemed a mere shadowy memory 
of some troubled dream. Even supposing 
his endeavours to obtain a commutation of 
Dane's sentence were crowned with success 
— and in the whole world nothing appeared 
less 'likely — how could any one with such a 
stain on his name, without character or 
money, or friends willing and able to assist 
him, marry and support a wife? If he 
were not wholly worthless he would refuse 



48—2 



68 SUSAN DBUMMONB. 

to accept the gift Susan was sure to offer ; 
lie would go away, and leave her free — he 
would not suffer the girl to mate with him. 
But now — now — one hour, and the world 
itself seemed changed to Mr. Gayre ; the 
blackness of despair closed around him as 
he thought of the glorious hope he could 
carry to that lonely girl sitting in a solitude 
worse than widowhood. For her the dawn, 
the sunrise, the glad sights and sounds of 
early day, the songs of happy birds, the 
light breeze of morning ; for him the dark- 
ness and ever-deepening gloom of a long, 
cold, cheerless winter's night. 

This was the point he had mentally 
reached when, rushing from temptation and 
fully prepared to put the affair beyond the 
power of retractation, he was driven back 
by the pelting rain, which swept down upon 
him in its wild fury and lashed his face, 
cutting him almost like the sting of a whip. 

Then the whole trouble had to be gone 



BEYOXJ) HIS STEEKGTH. 69 

over again. For hours, as his weary restless 
feet fell silently on the Turkey carpet, he 
went on telling the same story to himself, re- 
peating the same arguments, wandering along 
the road he already seemed to have been 
travelling for years. At such a crisis 
thought is worse than useless ; it becomes 
the mere drudgery of a horse going round 
and round in a mill, making, so far as its 
own benefit or satisfaction goes, no progress, 
returning every few minutes to the point it 
has but just left, and growing at length 
well-nigh giddy and stupid from the con- 
stantly recurring sight of objects which have 
grown familiar to distraction. 

Mr. Ga5rre had arrived at this pass 
mentally before he went to bed. Not a 
fresh thought or useful idea occurred to him. 
Everything Eight could find to say was said 
during the first ten minutes after Mr. Fife's 
departure. On the other hand, while the 
pleadings of Wrong were unduly protracted, 



70 S US AN DE UMMONB. 

they were not one half so convmcing ; had 
an impartial judge chanced to be on the 
bench, Wrong would have been ordered 
out of court at once. Still, that side which 
a man wishes to espouse must always make 
itself heard ; and accordingly temptation, 
though often driven back, again came steal- 
ing up, and laid its soft hand on the banker, 
and tried to lead him by almost imperceptible 
degrees from the path there is no mistaking 
into that which conducts to wilds and mazes 
we once should have recoiled in horror from 
the thought of being compelled to traverse. 
Nevertheless, during the watches of that 
lonely night, Mr. Gayre's purpose never 
really faltered. He did not shrink from the 
wrong, most earnestly he desired to cleave 
to the right ; but he felt that the impulse 
which had so nearly driven him to see 
Susan before he slept, and put the matter 
for ever beyond all power of recall, was past. 
He would not now be precipitate. Even 



BEYOND HIS STRENGTH. 71 

for her own sake lie would not offer a cup 
of happiness w^liicli might next moment be 
dashed to the ground. How was it compe- 
tent for him to tell what of truth or of 
falsehood lay folded within Mr. Fife's 
extraordinary story ? So many things had 
to be thought of; there was so much to 
consider. No ; most certainly he should 
not speak to Susan yet ; with a safe con- 
science he might for a brief span longer 
maintain that sweet fancy which he openly 
confessed to his own soul was a delusion — 
that marriage between Oliver Dane and her- 
self could only be regarded as impossible. 

And then he wondered for the hundreth 
time whether he could be generous as well 
as just. Whether he could ever forget he 
had been her lover, and really enact the 
part of friend; help Dane, for example, 
along the rough road of life, visit at their 
house, listen to Susan while she talked about 
how everything her husband touched pros- 



72 SUSAN DEUMMONJ). 

pered. But the last part he felt was im- 
possible. 

"I might as well," he considered bitterly, 
" propose myself standing godfather to their 
first child, and presenting the best silver 
mug and fork and spoon, and coral and 
bells, money could buy. No ; I may be able 
to rise to such a pitch of magnanimity as 
to oive him a leg if he can't mount the 
good steed Fortune by himself, but all else 
is beyond me. Some day I must tell Susan 
how I loved her, and never see her again. 
She will then think of me with far deeper 
interest ; her thoughts will often stray to 
me ; whether he is near or far off, she will 
have one sad corner in the garden of 
existence he will never be asked to visit. 
She will wonder what the man who, with 
her for wife, might have climbed so high, 
but who, lacking her, did nothing, is making 
of existence ; and if what Fife says is true, 
the time may even come when she might 



BEYOND HIS STRENGTH. 73 

think — Good God ! what a villain I am ! 
Were I in my senses to-night, I know I 
would not, for the sake of holding her in 
my arms, have her for one moment, even 
in thought, false to the man she loves." 
Having attained to which moral state of 
of mind, Mr. Gayre at length repaired to 
bed. 

Both interviews — the short talk with Mr. 
Fife and the much longer talk with his 
own soul — had taken a great deal out of the 
gentleman some persons casually referred to 
as "our slow friend the Old Tortoise in 
Lombard Street ; " for wliich reason it was 
no doubt that when at length exhausted 
nature sought some repose he slept soundly. 

The next morning he did not revert to 
his idea of rushing off to Islington. Quite 
the contrary. Light and air and sunshine 
but confirmed his determination to proceed 
m the matter slowly and cautiously, to 
make very sure he stood safely on one step 



74 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

before ascending to another, and to be 
hampered in his actions by the fads and 
whims of no woman living. 

" I should know no rest," considered Mr. 
Gayre, " if once she were aware how mat- 
ters stood." 

Possibly he was right. Yet still, it would 
have been better had she been aware. 

The weary day went by — such a day as 
the banker humbly trusted he might never 
spend again — and at length the hour came 
when he meant to ask Susan for that cup 
of tea of which he had not partaken in 
her company for seven long days. 

" I am so thankful to see you." This 
was her greeting. " I felt so afraid you 
were ill. I should have written, but I did 
not Hke to be troublesome." 

And all the time her face wore a tender 
anxious smile, and her eyes, out of which 
the sunlight of happiness faded one summer's 
morning at Enfield Highway, looked with in- 



BEYOND HIS STBENGTH. 75 

quiring solicitude into his. And she did not 
withdraw the hand he held, but let it lie 
in his strong warm grasp as though he had 
a right to keep it, as though in the whole 
wide world there were no Oliver Dane for 
whose sake she deemed the love of all 
other men valueless. 

She did not know : but he knew — knew 
that it was impossible he could give her up, 
with his own lips pronounce his death- 
warrant, and, while opening the gate of 
freedom for Oliver Dane, kill every goodly 
hope, the tendrils of which had grown 
around his heart and entwined their roots 
with his very being. 

" I have been well," he answered ; " but 
a rather annoying affair has vexed me. 
However — " He broke off to say, "I will 
not harass you with my worries. And you ? 
You are ill, I fear. What is it — what is 
wrong ? " 

" Only the old story," she answered, sadly. 



76 8 USAN BR UMMOND. 

" Waiting is such heart-breaking work. Time 
goes on, and nothing seems to advance. 
It is more than six months now, Mr. Gayre. 
He went to Portland last week." 

The banker had forgotten this fact. As 
she spoke, however, he remembered : and it 
was with a sharp twinge of conscience he 
saw the girl's eyes were full of unshed 
tears ; that the trouble — her lover's trouble, 
was indeed sapping away her great courage. 

" It has been so difficult to get the 
signatures," he remarked, more because he 
could think of no other words to speak 
than for any comfort or novelty contained 
in tliem. They — he and she — had gone 
over the same ground so often, the same 
things had been repeated so constantly, that 
they were both weary of the subject, which 
to him had been one long course of annoy- 
ance and humiliation, while to her it re- 
presented but hope deferred and cruel dis- 
appointment. 



BEYOND HIS STREXGTH. 77 

Now tlie signatures were procured, what 
was to be done with them ? To Mr. Gayre 
it had always seemed a mere waste of time, 
this stringing of influential names together ; 
while Susan, tossed about by the advice of 
friends — counselled to do this by one, to 
take some quite different course by another, 
and " get out of the whole affair " by a third 
— was growing utterly hopeless and dis- 
couraged. 

The week too spent without seeing or 
hearing from Mr. Gayre had tried and spent 
her even more sorely than that gentleman 
intended it should. 

As she poured out his tea he noticed how 
thin and transparent her hands looked, 
how hollow her cheeks were getting, how 
fragile her figure had become. With one 
sentence he could have caused her face to 
flush with hope, and given movement to 
those listless hands ; but that one sentence 
he did not mean to speak — not, at all events. 



78 S US AN DB UMMOND. 

wliile it was capable of giving her unalloyed 
happiness. 

" Lai Hilderton says," began Susan, after 
a pause, " that it is a case we should get 
ventilated by the press. Do you know 
any one connected with the press, Mr. 
Gayre?" 

Mr. Gayre, thus appealed to, thought for 
a moment, and then could not call to 
recollection that he did. 

" It seems to me." he went on, " that the 
time is past for that. A chance might have 
existed while the severity of the sentence 
was fresh in the public mind ; but now — " 

"Lai thinks there may be a chance even 
now." 

" There may," said Mr. Gayre, but his 
tone was not hopeful. 

" Ah me ! " murmured Susan, softly ; and 
then for a moment she covered her face and 
kept silence. 

" Does not Mr. Hilderton know any news- 



BEYOND HIS STRENGTH. ■ 79 

paper men ? " asked Mr. Gayre, merely for the 
sake of saying something. 

" No one possessed of any influence," 
answered the girl ; and then she looked at 
him with all her heart in her eyes. Wliat 
her look meant was, " Cannot you get to 
know some person of influence able and 
willing to bring Oliver's wrongs before the 
public, or Parliament, or the Queen, or any- 
body competent to set him free ? " 

How he did it, with Mr. Fife's story fresh 
in his mind, Mr. Gayre never afterwards 
could imagine ; but he looked straight back 
at the girl and shook his head. 

" ! " she cried, " do not think me 
wearisome, but is there nothing to be done ? 
Must I sit here with my hands folded, 
whilst he is dragging out such a hfe as 
that? You do not know him — really, I 
mean. If you did, you would understand 
what I feel. He never could bear restraint 
of any sort. It was only for me — for my 



8o S US AN DR UMMOND. 

sake — he came to London at all. He hated 
London, and business, and — ^and — " Her 
voice shook so much that she could not 
finish her sentence. 

" There is the memorial, remember," 
suggested Mr. Gayre, feeling himseK the 
worst of criminals. 

" But Lai says he is sure that won't 
produce the slightest effect." 

"It is a pity," observed the banker, 
irritably, " you and he did not arrive at 
that conclusion a little earlier. If you re- 
member, from the first I felt doubts con- 
cerning the expediency of moving heaven 
and earth to obtain signatures from people 
who knew practically nothing of the 



case." 



She sat with bowed head, her hands 
clasped tightly together, the while slow hot 
tears dropped heavily from her downcast 
eyes. 

" I did — not — mean — to vex you," she 



BEYOND HIS STRENGTH. 8i 

said at last, with a mighty effort ; " but 
the delay, the hopelessness of the whole 
thing, is killing me. I can't sleep, I can't 
eat, food chokes me ; the horror of night, 
the thought of him lying all in the dark, 
eating his heart out, with those endless 
years stretching away in the distance, seem 
more than I can bear. And my feehng is 
not selfish — God knows it is not ! If I 
could purchase freedom for him to-morrow, 
I would die — cheerfully, thankfully — if I 
only could think of him able to go where he 
liked and do what he liked, even though 
I never were to see him again, I could be 
content. I am a great trouble to you, I 
know, Mr. Gayre? You must be sick and 
tired of us both ; but if you could only 
think of any plan, or any person, likely to 
help him in this awful strait, I would do 
anything you told me. I would follow your 
advice implicitly. I would listen to no one 
else — Lai or anybody. Won't you think, 

Vol. iii. 49 



82 8 US AN BR UMMOND. 

Ml*. Gayre ? Forgive me for troubling you 
so much ; but it is just like saving a man 
from drowning, and you would do that, I 
know, at the risk of losing your own life. 
0, you will think ; I see you will ! How 
can I ever thank you ? " 

He could have told her, but he did not. 
Once more he was n-hting that demon of 
temptation, and silently swearing he would 
not let his better self be conquered, all the 
landmarks of his higher nature he removed, 
because of a love he had always instinctively 
felt was not for the good of his soul. 

How should she know? Heaven grant, 
he thought, she might never know the forces 
of evil beleac^uerino^ the citadel of his 
humanity at that moment ! They came in 
serried ranks, rushing onwards with almost 
resistless power, and at last he understood 
fully what the temptation a man has to war 
against means, the awful battle he has to 
wage when once he lets himself be drawn 



BEYOND HIS STRENGTH. ^z 

into such a conflict. At that juncture he 
intended to do right. Self-abnegation seemed 
grand to him. Again a sweeping sea of 
chivalric feehng brought a great opportunity 
to his feet; but while he was stretching 
down his feeble hands to seize it, the waves 
ebbed, and bore the chance back into that 
ocean where so many things, once fair and 
beautiful and of good repute, lie engulfed. 
" Yes, I will think," was all he could say, 
in a tone which conveyed far, far more than 
he intended. 

In a second she had risen from her chair, 
and taken a step towards him. He never 
knew what purpose was in her mind, for she 
stopped suddenly, while a painful colour 
dyed her cheeks and forehead, and even her 
throat. 

"I was forgetting something I wanted to 
say," she remarked, after an embarrassed 
pause. " It is probable I shall be leaving 
here soon." 

49-2 



84 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

*' Why ? " Mr. Gayre was so astonished 
he could only utter one word. 

" I have been told I ought not — that is to 
say, I have been advised — I should not live 
all alone here, as I am doing. Perhaps you, 
too, think I have done wrong ; but I had no 
intention. I never thought of that side of 
the question." 

" It was one of your own sex, I presume, 
who asked you to consider it," hazarded 
Mr. Gayre, to whom, even at so supreme a 
moment, the idea of Susan and convention- 
ality being associated suggested a conjunc- 
ture so absurd he could scarcely refrain 
from smiling. 

" Yes ; though I do not exactly know 
how you came to that conclusion," and 
once again the girl coloured. " There was 
a time," she went on earnestly, "I should 
not have cared. I should have said, 'Let 
people think what they like ; ' but I 
could not say that now. I have never 



BEYOND HIS STRENGTH, 85 

before been quite by myself. I have 
always had some other person's wishes to 
consult, and judgment to lean on ; but now 
my whole life is altered — " 

" And ? " inquired Mr. Gayre. 

" And I suppose I must make a change of 
some sort. If Oliver were in London — that 
is, where he was able to know what I was 
doing — it would not matter. He could, in 
that case, take care of me, and himself too. 
Now, I have got him to think of — ^him as 
well as myself." 

" That is very true," said Mr. Gayre, with 
a ring of bitterness she did not detect. 

" So I have come to the conclusion," 
Susan continued, more readily, " that I 
will take a little cottage somewhere near 
London. I don't care if it be no better than 
a labourer's. My old nurse would come up 
and live with me. Indeed, I have written 
to ask her to do so." 

" 0, you have written, have you ? " 



86 . SUSAN BR UMMOND. 

This time it was Susan's turn to look 
astonislied. 

" Yes. I would have consulted you, only 
I could not tell when I might see you next." 

" I fancy it would have been impossible for 
any one to give better advice than that you 
have already asked and followed." 

"You really think so? I am very thank- 
ful. For other reasons, too, I want to leave 
here. I could live cheaper — in — in the 
labourer's cottage, and I most anxiously 
desire to save every penny I can. If, some 
morning, when Oliver comes back, I had not 
enough to enable him to make a fresh start 
I should never forgive myself; but what 
a far, far cry it is to Loch Awe ! Will he 
ever come^ back to me ? » Shall I ever see 
him on this earth again ? " 

Within a somewhat wide margin, Mr. 
Gayre could have answered this question had 
he liked ; but he did not like, and so con- 
tented himself with uttering a certain 



BEYOXD HIS STRENGTH. 87 

number of regulation forms of comfort, 
which sounded so cold and unreal, Susan 
shrank from the consolation they offered. 

" He does not believe in Oliver's inno- 
cence," she considered after Mr. Gayre's de- 
parture. " How am I ever to persuade this 
the only man who could really help him, 
of how incapable my darling is of crime ? " 
And because she saw no way of compassing 
this, she cried herself into a troubled slum- 
ber, unwitting the banker felt as certain of 
Mr. Dane's being guiltless as he did of his 
own existence, and that over her head there 
slept a person who could have told her the 
name of " a conceited puppy's " enemy. 

Meanwhile Mr. Gayre's loneliness had been 
enlivened by a visit from his straitlaced 
brother-in-law. 

" Gad," began that worthy, " what a time 
it is since I have seen you ! Why, you look 
as washed out as an old muslin gown ! 
What is the matter ? Bihous, eh ? " 



88 S USAX DR UMMOXD. 

" I have got a confouiidecl headache," 
returned the banker, with that lack of 
ceremonious politeness only warranted by 
relationship. 

" Bad — very bad," returned Sir Geoffrey, 
with a sympathetic shake, as one who had 
exhausted the whole run of human ailments, 
and found nothing so hard to bear as a 
headache. " ' All work and no play,' you 
remember, ' makes Jack ' — far worse than a 
dull boy ; a sick one. Xow, look here, my 
friend, you know I am not a man to recom- 
mend stimulants when they can be avoided. 
I wish to heaven my constitution did not 
require them ! If you think the matter over 
quietly, Gap^e, it really is an awful thing to 
have a constitution that eternally wants 
' picking up.' Mine does, worse luck ; if it 
didn't, I should indeed be thankful. But 
however, what I want to say is this : for a 
headache, like yours you know, there is 
nothing so good as brandy-and-soda. I 



BEYOyD HIS STRENGTH. 89 

think I have mentioned the fact before, but 
I may as well give you the recipe again. I 
wouldn't take much — say a glass of brandy 
and a split of soda — your man might finish 
the soda ; it would not be wasted, pity to 
waste anything. Try my prescription, 
Gayre ; 'pon my soul you'll find yourself a 
new man after it." 

" Thank you greatly for all your sugges- 
tions, but I do not mean to take anything, 
except some sleep." 

" Balmy Nature's, et-cetera," said the 
Baronet. " Well, I'll not prevent your 
swallowing that medicine, so I'll be off'. 0, 
I forgot what I came to say : Peggy's 
back." 

" When were father and daughter re- 
united ? " 

" I wouldn't sneer, Gayre, were I you ; 
I wouldn't, upon my soul : it doesn't suit 
you, and it's not the thing to make a fellow 
exactly loved and respected. But, to answer 



90 SUSAN BRUMMONB. 

your question, Peg and I were rejoined in 
filial bonds — no, that's not it ; how the deuce 
does the thing go ? However, the dear girl 
returned to the paternal roof (for paternal 
read Moreby, thanks to the Jews) a week 
ago, looking lovelier than ever. We must 
marry her, Gayre ; we really must, you 
know." 

" Marry her if you like, she's not my 
daughter." 

" For which little circumstance you may 
be very thankful, if you knew all, I can 
tell you." 

" I don't want you to tell me. I want to 
go to bed." 

"I'll not hinder you. She went over to 
see Susan the very day after she came back." 

" Did she really ! How very good of 
her ! " 

"Wasn't it? And she found the poor 
little woman altogether out of sorts. I am 
afraid she made a great mistake going and 



BEYOND HIS STRENGTH. 91 

engaging herself to a wild sort of chap like 
Dane. Something quiet and sensible and 
domestic I should have thought much more 
the figure ; but there, you never can tell 
anything about what suits girls. "When I 
think of your poor sister — tut, what am I 
talking about? Just tell your man, Gayre, 
to fetch 3^ou one bottle of soda and a thim- 
bleful of brandy. Acts like a charm. I 
know it does with me. No ? then I won't 
keep you up ! Good-night — good-m^t ! ' 
And the Baronet was gone. 






CHAPTEE IV. 

" HOW MUCH ARE YOU SORRY ? " 

^^UEPOSELY Mr. Fife deferred keeping, 
^^^ his appointment on the Wednesday 
when Mr. Gayre was to give a final answer, 
till the last possible moment. 

" T thought you had perhaps changed 
your mind, and were not coming," said the 
banker. 

"It seemed to me only fair to let you 
have as long as possible," answered Mr. 
Fife ; ^' although when a man fails to make 
up his mind at first I generally notice he 
experiences considerable difficulty in making 
it up at last. Well, how is it to be ? " 

"I have decided to go on with the 
matter." 



" HOW MUCH ABE TO U SOBEY? " 93 

" Come, that is more to the point. Have 
you spoken to Miss Drummond ? " 

"Not yet." 

" When will you do so ? " 

" I cannot tell ; probably not until I am 
able to say, ' Mr. Dane has been proved 
innocent. He will be at liberty in a few 
days.' " 

" Good Heavens ! " ejaculated Mr. Fife, 
" is this Bedlam, and are you one of the 
patients ? " 

"I should be mad indeed, Mr. Fife, if I 
pursued any other course." 

" It does not make much difference to 
me. I suppose you know your own busi- 
ness best ; but I confess I was not prepared 
to find Mr. Nicholas Gayre, of the sign of 
the Tortoise, Lombard Street, so romantic 
a gentleman. All that remains now for you 
to do in the way of self-renunciation and 
chivalry is to give the bride away, take 
Dane into partnership, and entreat both 



94 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

husband and wife always to regard you as 
a devoted friend. They won't know how 
to express their gratitude sufficiently for 
a while, and then they'll begin to say, 
' How intolerable it is to have a stranger 
coming in and out at all hours ! He takes 
good care we shall never forget that kind- 
ness he did us,' or else Mr. and Mrs. Dane 
will begin to wrangle about you. He will 
observe he should have preferred to work 
out his time rather than lie under an 
eternal obligation ; and she will remark, 
she wishes he had never been let out of 
prison." 

Mr. Gayre looked across at his tormentor, 
but spoke no word — indeed, he had no 
word ready to speak. 

" When are you going to Colvend ? " asked 
Mr. Fife. 

"I have not made up my mind." 

" ! " and Mr. Fife laughed ironically. 

"May I ask what you mean by your 



«' HOW MUCH ARE YOU SOBBY?" 95 

extremely offensive manner ? " inquired Mr. 
Gayre. 

"Not much, but enough," was the calm 
reply. "When do you suppose you will 
make up your mind? There is no time to 
be lost, you know." 

" I do not mean to be dictated to by 
you," declared Mr. Gayre, trembling with 
passion. 

" Pardon me, I fancy T must dictate to 
you a very little. »Tust give me an idea, will 
you, as to the outside period within whicli 
it may suit you to open ^proceedings ? " 

" If it is money you want — " 

" I want money ; but I can do without it 
for a short time. And now, as you can't, 
or won't, give a straightforward answer to 
a plain question, listen to me. I am not 
going to wait your convenience. A wrong 
has been done, and it must be righted," 
added Mr. Fife, with a nasty jeer. " That 
nice young man ought to be set up on his 



96 S US AN BE UMMONB. 

pedestal again. He needs comfort ; and 
we know who will console him. It really 
is a shame that an innocent person should 
remain under such a cloud merely because 
you are unable to decide what you will 
do." 

" I quite agree with you, and you had 
better see Mr. Colvend yourself." 

" Softly — softly ; it is Miss Drummond I 
shall see first." 

'' See Miss Drummond, then." 

" But I thought you were going to spare 
her the crowning humiliation of an interview 
with my unworthy self." 

" I meant to do so ; but as you cannot 
refrain from insolence when addressing me, 
I feel it impossible to carry negotiations 
further with yoiiJ' 

" The insolence, as you call it, has, I fancy, 
been more on your side than mine. I came 
here to do you a good turn, and at the 
same time benefit myself. How was I 



'^HOIV M UCH ABE YO U SORE Y 1 " 97 

received? And now, when all I want is 
some definite answer from you as to the 
length of time you purpose to wait before 
seeing Mr. Colvend, you turn round and 
advise me to go to my principals, or Miss 
Drummond, or anybody likely to make a 
beautiful mess of the whole business, in 
preference to yourself, who have posed as 
OHver Dane's best friend. Friend, indeed ! 
If you could keep him in penal servitude 
for life I believe you would do it." 

"For Heaven's sake take the matter into 
your hands, and leave me in peace ! I will 
still stand to wdiat I said as regards money, 
but I should prefer, in other respects, to be 
out of the affair." 

"Meaning, I presume, you would rather 
some other person hung you, than put the 
noose round your own neck and kick the 
stool away." 

It was really appalling! Mental analysis, 
the comprehension of hidden motives, know- 

Vol. iii. 50 



98 S US AX BB UMMOSD. 

ledge of the weakness and Tvickedness of 
human nature, Mr. Gay re had always pre- 
viously considered matters appertaining to 
the higher culture He felt shocked to find 
a low fellow like Mr. Fife — a man he 
would not have shaken hands with on 
any consideration — a humdrum routine 
creature as he had seemed, could lay 
his finger with unerring certainty on a 
festering sore, and by the aid of instinct, 
or some equally unaccountable natural gift, 
jump to the comprehension of motives under- 
stood but dimly even by the person they 
influenced. 

It is a shock to anyone who thinks him- 
self acquainted with the ^'orld to find that 
kis knowledge is of the narrowest description, 
and Mr. Fife's remark affected ^Ir. Ga}Te 
like a cold douche. 

" I fear I scarcely follow you," he said. 

" yes, you do," was the uncompromising 
retort. "In your class of life your remark 



" HOW MUCH ARE TO U SORRY? ' 99 

is merely, I suppose, a polite hint for me 
to amend or retract my words ; but it is 
only because I remember my rank is not 
yours I have refrained from using plainer 
and stronger language. By appointment — 
your own appointment, remember — I came 
here to-night, as I understood, finally to 
arrange details : and first you tell me what 
I knew before, that you had decided to go 
on with the matter ; and second, because 
something I say does not quite please your 
mightiness, that I had better go through 
with it myself. The whole fact is you 
want to ' trim,' and you do not exactly see 
how to do it. You do not like to tell 
Miss Drummond her lover is innocent, and 
trust to her generosity, because you know as 
well as I do women have no generosity, and 
no gratitude either, if you come to that. 
You are averse to going to Colvend because 
you feel the first sentence you speak will 
put the girl beyond your reach for ever ; 



50—2 



I oo S US AX Dli UMMOXD. 

and you object to adopt the plan I suggested 
because you desire to keep up the character 
of being something more than human. 
That is how the case stands, and accordingly 
you wish to drift for a bit, to see if any- 
thing turns up. The captain in the old 
song ' Told them he would marry, but he 
never said when,' and in like manner you 
may keep on ' intending ' to go to Colvend's 
till the Millennium, or till the term of 
Oliver Bane's sentence has nearly expired." 

" If you have quite finished, Mr. Fife, per- 
haps you will kindly return me the paper I 
was foolish enough to sign, and leave my 
house." 

" As to leaving, I shall go in a minute ; as 
to giving up the paper, I'm not such a flat. 
As to the rest — this is Wednesday — if by 
Saturday, you have not spoken to Mr. 
Colvend, I shall take the liberty of asking a 
private audience with your young lady on 
Sunday." 



" HO W MUCH ABE YO U SOJRBY? " loi 

" Wliy delay ? Why not tell her all you 
know — if you do know it — to-morrow? ' 

" I said before, I had my reasons. I say 
again, I have my reasons ; but even they 
won't allow me to postpone action indefi- 
nately. Oliver Dane is ill; next we hear of 
him he may he dying. If he should die — 
and he is just the sort of chap to break his 
proud heart — what becomes of both of us 
then ? You would have to whistle for your 
young wife a long time before you could get 
her, I am afraid ; and I should have to whistle 
for my money and something else — " 

"How do you know that Dane is ill." 

"What does that matter? I know as all 
men who are their own detectives always 
do know. Yes ; and if you had not been so 
confoundedly high and mighty with me, I 
should tell you something else it might be 
your interest to hear. As matters stand, I 
mean to keep my information to myself for 
the present." 



I02 S US AX BE UMMO^'D. 

"Believe me, I -would rather remain in 
ignorance for ever than be enlightened by you." 

"That is courtesy, I suppose, and good 
breeding, and all the rest of it. However, he 
laughs best who laughs last. Now I am 
going. Saturday, remember, is the latest, 
and I shall not come here again. Good-night, 
Mr. Gayre. You think yourself a very wise 
man ; I will not shock your refined nerves 
by telling you my opinion on that point." 

He was gone. As he closed the library 
door with a bang, Mr. Gayre understood the 
Dane complication had entered on a new 
phase. After ninety-six hours it could be no 
longer in his power to speak or to refrain. 
That halting steed, himself, would — unless he 
made good use of the short time still at his 
disposal — be altogether out of the running. 

There might be racing hot and swift — 
hope, despair, falsehood, asseveration, exul- 
tation, disappointment ; but his share in 
the excitement, the rush, the prize, would 



•-' HO W MUCH ARE YO U SORB Y 1 " 103 

be nil. Not even as a friend might he 
hope to participate in the gladness of the 
day of triumph, for he understood perfectly 
that if he failed before night on that fatal 
Saturday to decide, nothing but renunci- 
ation was possible. Mr. Fife, in telling the 
story, would make Susan clearly understand 
how he had hesitated between good and evil 
and failed to do what was right, though he 
lacked courage actually to commit a 
wrong. 

" Yes ; that is the way this brute " — so he 
mentally styled Mr. Fife — " would put the 
case." After all there is but a right, there 
is but a wrong ; and would Mr. Fife have 
been totally inaccurate in describing the 
banker's conduct as cowardly ? Perhaps 
the courage or the temperament which 
enables a man to plunge headlong into sin 
may upon occasion give him strength to 
perform some act of enormous self-abnega- 
tion — sacrifice his own life to save some 



104 -5 US AX BE UMMOXD. 

Other life to all appearance perfectly worth- 
less, smilingly wave farewell to happiness 
for the sake of one who, to our poor 
human thought, does not deserve to be 
especially happy. 

It is a great mystery. The tendency of 
our modern life is to wipe all strong 
emotions, all supreme passions, off the 
society slate ; and yet in a book it has of 
late become somewhat bad form to study, 
but which will survive as it has survived, 
many changes of fashion and creeds of 
morals, we are specially warned against 
being neither hot nor cold. 

Perhaps as Mr. Gayre beheld the face of 
that devil which skulks within the heart 
of every man and woman, he felt it might 
have been better had he chanced to be 
weaned on some different creed than one 
ignoring our humanity and the temptations 
which assail it. 

Seven times were the walls of Jericho com- 



'• HO IV MUCH ARE YO U SORB Y ? " 105 

passed ere tliey fell ; but at the sound of 
the final trumpet Jericho was an entrenched 
city no longer, because its foundations 
were rotten and accursed. If a tree have 
no root, how can it produce leaf and bud 
and fruit ? The earth, which is gracious 
even to its meanest child, may give it for 
a short time some poor show of vitality 
and greenness, but it is not strong enough 
to drink in a sap which shall support even 
during the few short days of springtime ; 
and so it withers away, and is cut down 
because it " cumbereth the ground." 

In the day of his trial, Mr. Gayre found 
himself Avanting ; in the hour when he 
should have been strong to bring forth the 
best fruit of a man's life, he was barren. 
At last he knew it is not enough to decide 
that we will resist temptation — we should 
flee it. Those who are wise will not let 
even its shadow fall across their path. 

IT that niorht — that first ni^rht — he had 



io6 S US AX BR UMMOND. 

allowed his better angel to have her way, 
and lead him through storm and darkness 
to a land of safety, whence return to the 
wave-beaten rock where he sat so long con- 
sidering was impossible, this terrible struggle 
need never have rent his bosom ; but now 
he could not with his own hand sign the 
death-warrant — with his own lips he could 
not speak the words wliich should give to 
Oliver Dane his liberty, to Susan Drummond 
her lover. 

He could have done great things for 
Susan — he could have died for her ; but it 
seemed absolutely impossible he could live 
without her. He had allowed the grandest 
opportunity of his life to slip by. What 
would she not have thought of him ! 
How she would have loved him! And now 
he had lost all chance even of gratitude. 

Mr. Fife would open the ball ; and some 
day, no doubt, tell Susan and the world 
how he offered Mr. Gayre the choice of 



" HOW MUCH ARE YO U SOBBY? " 107 

being first spokesman, and how tliat gentle- 
man refused to speak. He might come to 
be a common jeer, a mere laughing stock. 
Mr. Gay re rose in a fury and paced his room. 
He had still time left. It was still not quite 
the eleventh hour, though near it. Thursday 
was gone. Friday wanted but few hours of 
being garnered into the great eternity. 
Should he still go to Susan ? No ; he felt 
the task beyond his strength. She should 
be led to meet her lover, but not by him ; 
the delicate rose-tints should once again 
blossom on her cheek ; but when that 
lovely portrait of tender affection — of perfect 
happiness — was finished another artist than 
Nicholas Gayre would add after his name 
the word " pinxit." 

No, he could not do it. He might that 
first night, in the mad rush and hurry of 
his soul, have battled through the wind and 
the rain, and, drenched and buffeted, told 
her all the story; how he had loved, how 



o8 SUSAN DBUMMOXD. 

lie had been tempted, how he had resisted, 
how he had come to bring her peace ; and 
then once again taking his lonely life in his 
hand, passed out into the darkness, away 
from her for ever. Desolate though such 
an ending of the sweet love-dream might 
seem, it would have been a thousand times 
better than the ^vreck of honour and honesty 
suggested by Mr. Fife. Then the absolute 
cowardice of the middle course he was 
treading! Was this what years of idleness 
and prosperity had done for him ? — years of 
sleeping soft and eating regularly, of con- 
forming to the world's code of conventional 
propriety, of holding aloof from sinners, and 
consorting only with tliose who had balances 
at their bankers, and were mighty reputable 
and respectable men and women? 

Yes, it icas this. Ever since he had left 
the army, and striven to shape the pattern 
of his life to that of those amongst whom 
his lot was cast, he knew each day, as it 



" HOIV MUCH ABE YOU SORRYV 109 

came and went, found and left him more 
and more truly a Pharisee thanking God for 
something which probably was not in the 
least degree pleasing to the Almighty. He 
had grown to like and respect money — or 
at least the thinq-s money can buy ; the 
deadly canker of riches and conyentionality 
had eaten into his yery soul, and gnawed 
away the graces of impulsiye generosity and 
noble chiyalry which once undoubtedly were 
rooted there. He was not the same man. 
Yon poor publican, who durst not as much 
as lift his eyes to heaven, would go down 
to his house justified, rather than Nicholas 
Gayre, banker, who would gladly have given 
all he possessed in exchange for strength to 
do an act of the most ordinary justice. 
But he could not do it. Just as a drunkard 
will drain some fiery draught to the last 
drop, even while loathing the smell and de- 
testing the taste, so this man, whose breath 
had once come shorter when hearing of great 



no S US AX I)R UMMOXD. 

deeds, while recalling wild achievements, 
lacked courage to cut the rope binding him 
to the thought of wrong, though honour 
lay in idoing so, and shame abode in 
that from which he refused to cast himself 
adrift. 

" To-morrow will end it all," he thought, 
looking forward as a criminal on the eve 
of execution may think of the following 
noon when he shall have been hours in 
eternity. 

He would not lift a finger to retard or 
to expedite events. It seemed to him as 
though during the course of five days and 
nights he had lived a lifetime, and he knew 
at the end of that time one thing he had 
never known before — namely, that passsive 
resistance is no victory, that a man may 
lose far more in the course of even a 
short siege than during a battle. 

The library clock first chimed the quarters 
and then struck nine. But three hours, 



''HOW MUCH ARE YO U SORE Y ? " in 

and then midnight. Mr. Gay re stood still 
in the centre of the apartment. It was 
not yet too late ; should he still go to Susan. 

Irresolutely he turned towards the door, 
and took a hesitating step in the directior 
of honour and safety, then — 

"Sir Geoffrey Chelston and a lady are 
in the drawing-room. Colonel. Sir Geoffrey 
would like to see you immediately." 

Mr. Gayre stared at the man. 

'•Lady!" he repeated. "What lady? 
Miss Chelston?" 

"No, Colonel, not Miss Chelston." 

" Good Heavens, perhaps the Baronet 
has got hold of Miss Colvend ! " was the 
idea that flashed across Mr. Gayre's mind. 
" What a lunatic I am ! " he next decided ; 
" the world contains a few other people and 
things besides Oliver Dane and his interests." 

He went slowly upstairs ; for the second 
time, as it seemed, Fate had interposed 
between him and his purpose. He was 



112 S US AX DR UMMOXJ). 

making yet another most reluctant move 
towards the right when the mysterious 
shadow we may feel, but can never see, 
laid her hand upon and held him back. 

Harlequin-like assuming the gay presence 
of Sir Geoffrey Chelston too ! Mr. Gayre 
smiled as he stood on the landing, con- 
sidering the remarkable shape it had pleased 
his deterrent angel to assume. A man 
possessed by the almost sardonic sense of 
humour nature (or circumstances) had 
given him ought to have been able to 
steer clear of moral pitfalls. But we are 
all imperfect ; and, in his hour of need, Mr. 
Gayre certainly found his sense of humour 
a mere snare and delusion. 

It had not delivered him from tempta- 
tion ; it had not proved that friend in need 
which is the friend indeed ; quite the con- 
trary. Now the Phihstines were on him 
in reality, his perception of the ridiculous, 
which had so often come to the rescue 



" HOJV MUCH ARE YO U SORRYl " 113 

when, as regards mercantile non-success, 
env3\ hatred, and all uncharitableness might 
otherwise have taken possession of his heart, 
left him with the power to gibe indeed, 
but the inability so fight. He could see 
the absurdity of forty-five thinking of mating 
with twenty-one ; but he could not give up 
his fancy for all that. Susan was none the 
less fair because the summers of her life had 
been so few ; he was all the more in love 
for the very reason that he had heard so 
often the iovous rustlino^ made bv Nature 
when the first touch of spring sunshine 
awakens her from long winter sleep. 

No ; it was as well Sir Geoffrey had come. 
For almost the first time in his life Mr. Gayre 
felt glad to know the Baronet was close at hand. 

He opened the drawing-room door and 
entered. In the centre of the apartment 
directly under the chandelier stood the 
once owner of Chelston ; his legs as usual 
a little bowed ; his white hat which he 

Vol iii. 51 



114 S US AX DR UMMOND . 

held in his left hand, ornamented by a 
broad mourning band ; his whole unique 
person serving unintentionally to screen a 
lady who, with averted face buried in her 
hands, sat in an armchair close behind. 

"How do, Gayre?" It was the Baronet 
\f\\o spoke. " Knew you'd forgive me. 
I've brought a poor little broken-hearted 
soul to you for comfort. I said, ' If Gayre 
can't help you nobody can. Kever met 
with such a fellow for helping other people.' 
Susan, Susan, my girl, look up ; don't go 
on crying like that ! Here's Gayre. Lord 
bless you, he'll find some way out of the 
trouble." And Sir Geoffrey, who was not 
given to the melting mood, broke off with 
a very suspicious tremor in his voice, 
merely to add next moment : " For God's 
sake, Gayre, think what we can do ! I'd 
take a petition to the Queen myself, only 
I'm afraid she wouldn't^ read it!" 

" What has happened ? What is the 



" no W MUCH ABE YO U SORRYl *' 115 

matter ? " asked !Mr. Gayre, feeling literally 
stunned by the turn affairs had unex- 
pectedly taken. 

" There, Susan ; there, my dear ! What 
did Papa Geoff tell you P Your own old 
Papa Geoff" and the engaging Baronet 
stroked his favourite down as if she had 
been a horse. ^r. Ga}Te forgave him 
though ; the wretched sinner's genuine love 
for so pure a creature covered — in his 
brother-in-law's eyes — a multitude of faults. 
"Didn't I say to you as we came along, 
' Beyond all things, Gayre is practical ; he 
has always his wits about him ; he'll 
make something out of this bother. There's 
a silver lining, you know, and gad ! if 
there's any silver to be got Gayre's the 
man to get it ' " 

Having concluded which complimentary 
speech, Sir Geoffrey reined in, and left 
either jockey who pleased to do the rest 



of the running. 



61-2 



1 16 S USAN DR UMMOND. 

" Miss Drummond, what is the matter ? " 
asked Mr. Gayre. 

He had walked across the room, and 
was standing close beside her, so when, 
for answer, she held out a piece of folded 
paper, he could take it from her hand 
without the intervention of Sir Geoffrey. 

" Do you wish me to read this ? " he 
said. 

Just for a second she turned towards 
him a tear-stained face, out of which all 
the beauty had temporarily been washed 
by vehement weeping, and murmured, 

" Yes." 

"I had no notion of it. It was the last 
thing I should have thought of, 'pon my 
soul it was," murmured Sir Geoffrey in a 
stage aside. It was the last thing also 
Mr. Gayre could have thought of, and 
yet the most natural in the world. Find- 
ing he made no move, already Mr. Fife had 
commenced to open the ground for himself. 



''HOW M UCH ARE YO U SORRY? " 117 

Thus ran tlie note, which had neither 
prefix nor signature : 

" Oliver Dane is very ill ; removed to 
infirmary. If his friends mean to come 
forward, they must do so now or ne\t:r." 

After he had read, Mr. Gayre stood 
silent, clutching the paper in his hand. 
At last he thoroughly realised the position. 
Oliver Dane, innocent, buried as a felon ; 
Susan broken-hearted — Susan removed as 
far from him as heaven itself. Another 
man, and that man Samuel Fife, would 
step in, perhaps almost too late to undo 
the evil intensified by Mr. Gayre's want 
of decision. But what could Mr. Fife or 
Susan, or any one Avho lacked money and 
influence, efiect without tedious and possibly 
fatal delay ? Xo ; it should not be. Mr. 
Fife's action determined him ; all hesita- 
tion was over. One surging wave removed 
in an instant all the land-marks of his life. 
Good and evil, right and wrong, meant 



1 18 S USAN DB UMMOND . 

nothing to him then. He would save the 
man, but he must sacrifice the woman. 
With his own vacillation he had destroyed 
the will to choose. Only a single word 
escaped him at that crisis, " God ! " but it 
was no cry for help, only an utterance of 
despair, as he turned him to the darksome 
way that leadeth to destruction. 

There ensued a silence which though brief 
seemed to Susan endless. Twice Mr. Gayre 
tried to speak, and twice his parched lips 
refused their office ; but at last he managed 
to say, in a tone harsh by reason of the 
strong effort required to make himself 
audible, and the still stronger constraint he 
placed upon his w^ords, 

"I do not see. Miss Drummond, why you 
should distress yourself so much." 

Once again she lifted her tear-stained face, 
this time to look at him with amazement, 
while she mutely pointed to the paper in his 
hand. 



''HOW M UCH ABE TO U SOEBY? " 119 

"Xo person who knows anything of the 
world," went on Mr. Gayre, " attaches the 
slightest importance to an anonymous 
letter." 

She rose and stood erect before him — stood 
encircled by the indefinable charm which was 
her birthright — stood in her youth and 
sorrow the better to say fully what was in 
her mind. 

" That letter is true," she gasped ; " I feel 
it, I know it. I was not thankful enough 
for my misfortunes. God had been very 
cfracious to me. Though He saw fit to 
separate us, it was not by the great gulf of 
death, and yet I murmured ! 0, Mr. Gayre, 
what is to be done ? Can't you — won't you 
— ^lielp us? It may seem nothing to you, but 
it means life to Oliver ; " And in an access 
of grief, this girl-woman, with the marvellous 
eyes and hair, such as the Venetian painters 
dreamed of but rarely saw, and a tender 
heart and a nature grand and strong as ever 



1 20 5 us AX DE UMM OKB. 

Avas held within a hssom binding, flung her- 
self on the floor, and held out her clasped 
hands in an attitude of agonised entreaty to 
the man Sir Geolfrey had taught her to 
regard as well-nigh omnipotent. 

" For Heaven's sake don't kneel to me ! " 
entreated that man, recoiling a little ; for he 
was still sufficiently master of himself to 
know he dared not lift the prostrate figure, 
lest he should strain it to his heart. 

"Gently, gently, does it, old lady," said the 
Baronet, as, without the smallest desire to 
take her to his heart, he raised the one human 
being he loved with an unselfish attachment, 
and placed her again in her chair. " Don't 
frighten my brother-in law. He's very slow, 
but he is indeed very sure. He'll find a way 
out of the mess, or my name's not Geoffrey 
Chelston ; and, as I feel I am totally in the 
way. 111 just — to put the matter colloquially 
— walk my chalks. You and Gayre will hit 
on some plan ; I know you will. In sorrow, 



" HO JV MUCH ARE YO U SORRY? " 121 

as in love, two are company, you remember, 
but a third is a confounded nuisance. And 
look here, Gayre, this room may be all very 
fine, but it is beastly cold. Don't you see 
Susan is shivering like an aspen ? Haven't 
you got a fire somewhere ? and can't you 
manage a cup of tea or coffee, or — or any- 
thing for her while you are talking over 
what is to be done ? Come along, Sue : 
come downstairs with me, and cheer up, 
my beauty 1 Gayre will find a way out of 
this trouble. Don't cry your eyes out. 
What would Papa Geoff do if he never saw 
the sunshine dancing in them again, eh ? " 

Discoursing wdiich innocent and childlike 
prattle. Sir Geoffrey guided the girl from step 
to step and led her into the library, where 
he wheeled up the easiest chair to the fire, 
placed her " where you'll get thawed,'' 
patted her on the shoulder, said " ta-ta," 
and left her to '* come to," while he walked 
into the hall, followed by Mr. Gayre, to 



1 22 S US AX DB UMMOXD. 

whom he made a sign, intimatmg he wished 
to speak to him alone. 

By, of course, the merest accident Sir 
Geoffrey turned into the dining-room, and, 
without waiting to be asked whether he 
would have anything to " pick him up," in 
the merest absence of mind laid hold of a 
decanter and poured out a beaker. 

" Ton my soul,"' he said, " I don't know 
how women manage to get through their 
troubles on tea ; but then, to be sure, look 
at the state they reduce themselves to." 

"You have at least the consolation of 
feeling an undue use of tea has not destroyed 
your nerves," observed Mr. Gayre. 

" No, faith ; and I take very good care 
it never has the chance. Now just look at 
Susan, poor Susan! She's all to bits. Girl, 
too, who used not to know the meaning of 
the word 'fear." Why, she'd have gone at 
anything in the old days ; and here she is 
to-night all of a tremble because she is told 



«' HO W MUCH ABE YO U SOBRY? " 123 

her lover is sick. And that reminds me 
she'll need a very light hand, Gayre — she will 
indeed ; she'll not stand much. You'll have 
to be very cautious. Let her think she's 
having her head. I don't suppose we can 
do anything, really ; but there's no need to 
tell her that. In my opinion it would be 
a capital ending to the whole business if 
Dane did die ; but of course it isn't natural 
that she should take that view. And now 
I'll be off. Well, thank you, I may as well 
have a thimbleful more. Don't trouble, I'll 
help myself. As I was going to say, when 
you have finished your talk, bring her up 
to Xorth Bank. She must not be alone in 
those lodgings. Peggy's gone to the play 
with Mrs. Wookes, and is to stop the night ; 
but that makes no odds. Mrs. Lavender 
will make Susan comfortable. Excellent 
woman, Mrs. Lavender, though she is so 
confoundedly ugly. Xo ; I can't stop 
another minute, really ; besides, I'm only 



124 



5 us AX DR UMMOND. 



keeping you, when I know you are longing to 
speak comfort to my poor girl. Good-night, 
good-night. Bless you, Gayre ; " and Gayre 
was left alone. 




CHAPTER y. 



HIS PRICE. 



r^HgHEN Mr. Gayre re-entered the 
iiWp library, Susan was not sitting by 
the fire, as Sir Geoffrey had left her, but 
standing in the middle of the room, with 
a dazed hunted look on her changed face. 

"I think I had better go," she said. *'I 
know you can do nothing for me ; if you 
could, you would have done it ere this. Sir 
Geoffrey made me come. He thought 
amongst your friends — but I told him — " 

" Do sit down," entreated Mr. Gayre ; 
and he led her to the hearth, where she 
almost fell into a chair, and sat staring with 
unseeing eyes at the leaping fire-light. 

" How do people go through such misery 



1 26 S us AN BE UMMOND. 

as mine and keep silent ? " slie murmured 
at last. "I am sorry to be so trouble- 
some ; but 0, if you knew — if you could 
imame — " and she broke once as^ain into 
passionate and uncontrollable weeping. 

"Do try to compose yourself. Miss 
Drummond," entreated Mr. Gayre ; '-you 
distress me intensely." 

" I can't help it," sobbed the girl, " though 
my tears won't give him life or liberty. 
If I could only do something — go to some- 
one ! Is there no human being, Mr. 
Gayre, who could help us? Think of him 
lying ill — dying, perhaps, in that dreadful 
place ! If it were your own brother, or 
your friend — but I am talking folly ! I 
will go now. I must not occupy your 
time any longer." 

"You must not think of going yet," he 
answered. " I have ordered some tea for 
you ; " and even as he spoke tea appeared. 
"You will have a cup, will you not?" 



HIS FBICE. 127 

" It would choke me," said Susan, shaking 
her head. "I feel as if I never should 
eat or sleep again." 

Mr. Gayre stood before the fire, looking 
down upon the drooping figure, the bowed 
head. At that moment his soul was not 
a battle-field, where good and evil were 
waging an almost equal war. JSTo ; the 
fight had ended, and he remained silent 
only because he was waiting for words in 
which to express his meaning. 

All at once he spoke. 

"If a man were to say to you to-night, 
this moment, ' I wiU strive to set your 
lover free — there is one way in which I 
might be able to obtain his release,' what 
would you do for that man? You spoke 
the other night as though no price which 
could be asked would seem to you too 
great." 

" Nor would it ! " she cried, lifting her 
swollen eyes, lit with a sudden gleam of 



1 28 S us Ay DR UMMONl). 

almost despairing hope. "Do you know 
such a man? What would I not do for 
him ? Every sixpence I own in the world 
he should have. I would be his servant 
— his slave — " 

"Would you ^be his icifeV 

She did not say anything ; she only 
looked at him in bewilderment. 

" Would you be my wife ? " 

It was done. If he lived a thousand 
years he could never recall that utterance. 
Till his dying day the expression of in- 
credulous horror that came into her face 
will never quite fade from his memor3\ 

" You — you — are jesting ! " she gasped. 

"Am I?" 

"I did — not — think you would have 
jested at such a time ; but — " 

"Do I look as if I were jesting?" he 
asked. 

If she had lifted her eyes she would 
have seen a man with the whole fashion 



HIS PRICE. 129 

of his countenance altered ; his lips (Com- 
pressed, his cheeks pale, his gaze bent on 
her with a terrible concentration ; but 
she did not lift her eyes. She shrank a 
little into herself, mentally cowering under 
the weight and horror of the blow he had 
dealt. 

"You never thought of this?" was ]iis 
next question. 

"No; never once." 

"Did no idea of anything of the sort 
ever cross your mind ? " 

" No ; never once." 

"You supposed my care for and interest 
in you arose from the extreme amiability 
of my disposition ? " 

"I thought you were my friend." 

"There is no such thing as friendship, 
there can be no such thing as friendship, 
between man and woman," he said almost 
fiercely. "It is either love or indifference, 
unless indeed it may be hate," with bitter 



1 30 S USAK DB UMMONI). 

emphasis on the word. "Perhaps you hate 
me now?" 

She did not answer ; she did not even make 
a sicrn of dissent. 

" Yes ; that is always the way with your 
sex ; they are willing — eager to seize every 
valuable a mau has to give, his love, his life, 
his money, his time, his thought ; and then 
if he ask for the smallest return, he is thrust 
out into the cold, to find a path through the 
lonely darkness of his after existence as 
best he may." 

" There is little I would not have done for 
you, Mr. Gayre," she answered, and there 
was no faltering in her voice ; " but what 
you ask is not mine to give ; and if it 
were " 

"Yes; if it were?" 

" I should not give it you." 

" I have made such a mistake in my mode 
of asking for it ? " 

"Yes, you have made a mistake. I was 



HIS PRICE. 131 

grateful to you ; I was indeed. But now — 
Oh, how can I ever forget what you said a 
minute ago ? " 

•' I do not want you to forget it. I want 

you to remember Xo ; you must not go 

yet. As you have heard so much, you must 
hear more." 

" I must not," answered the girl. " I feel 
as truly Oliver Dane's wife as if I were 
married to him, and the words which would 
have insulted me in that case insult me now." 

"You are mistaken. I am not insulting 
you. I am offering you the truest, deepest, 
most loyal love of which my nature is 
capable." 

"Love I" she murmured, softly. 

" Yes, a man's love, not a woman's — a 
love I have felt ever since I first saw your 
face — which I have strucfo^led with, fouorht 
against: — that has for months past cursed 
every hour of my life — that is killing me — 
that I am glad you at last know has crushed 

52-2 



1 32 S us AN BR UMMOND. 

all things noble and honest out of my heart, 
and made me so base I am capable of driving 
a bargain with you — you, for whom I would 
die, if, in dying, I could win one look of 
love." 

She stared at him appalled ; the very 
calmnesss of his tone and the restraint of 
his manner lent a greater terror to the 
passion of his words. 

" I never meant to tell you this," he went 
on, " God is my witness, when you entered 
my house to-night I had no more intention of 
letting you catch even a ghmpse of the war 
I have been waging with myself than you 
have of marrying me. A thousand times I 
have been on the point of saying something 
which should part us for ever ; but I refrained. 
All unconsciously you have tempted and 
tried me as man surely never was tempted 
and tried before ; yet I resisted. But a man 
cannot go on resisting for ever, and I am 
glad my resolution has broken at last. Yes, 



HIS PRICE. 133 

if, after to-mght, we never raeet again, I shall 
not feel sorry you know that which but for 
your own utter absorption, you would have 
known long ago." 

She sat like one stunned. The tears, which 
had well-nigh blistered her fair cheeks, were 
dry. Her eyes felt as if red-hot sparks had 
been thrown in them ; her lips were parched, 
her tongue stiff; and through all there was 
a pervading sense of shame and misery — of 
having lost something of great price — of 
having looked through an unclean window 
out on a world which never again for ever 
could seem just the same to her. 

For the moment she forgot even her lover 
— forgot his trouble ; as sometimes, in the 
worry and turmoil of daily life, we forget 
for a brief space our dead. Then it all came 
back to her, and she lifted her head and 
gazed up at ^Ir. Gayre with a hunted ap- 
pealing expression on that face capable of 
silently saying so much. 



1 34 S US.iN DB UMMOND. 

" I ask you to forgive me," she said at last, 
with a great effort. " I have been absorbed 
— and — I did — not know." 

" No, you did not know," lie answered with 
a sad cadence in his voice which touched her 
inexpressibly. 

"I am very, very sorry." 

"Why should you be sorry? You have 
only wrecked a man's life. What are twenty 
lost lives to a woman ? " 

"Good-night, Mr. Gayre." She was standing 
now. " Don't let us part in bitterness. I will 
try to think of all this only as a bad dreani." 

" How very kind you are ! " he sneered. 

" Good-night." 

" Wait a moment. What about Mr. Dane ? 
Is he to stop where he is, or — " 

She raised her rio-ht hand with a sfesture 
of passionate despair. 

" Can you I'eally do anything for him, or 
were you merely trying me ? " 

" I cannot say. I would have striven." 



HIS PRICE, 135 

'• And you will still do it for liim, though 
you think me so ungrateful ? " 

"No, by Heaven, that will I not! " said ]\Ir. 
Gayre, a torrent of rage breaking down all 
the barriers he himseK had raised. " You 
have made your choice — abide by it. I shall 
not try to influence you further. This night 
I part company with you and your lover. 
Do what you can for him without my help. 
Why should I be the one to give up every- 
thing?" 

Mournfully she turned a little aside, walked 
to the table, then stood and faced him with 
a steady front. 

" What is it you could do for Oliver ? " she 
asked. 

" I have no intention of doing anything 
now," he answered. 

" What was it, then, you thought you 
mio'ht have done ? " 

" I regret being rude to a lady, but I must 
decline to answer that question." 



1 36 S us AN DR UMMOND. 

" Do you think you could have done any- 
thing ? " 

" I could have tried." 

" But you have always tried." 

" Well, yes, that is true. Stillj formerly I 
felt my trying would not effect much, or 
perhaps I should not have been so eager in the 
matter. Before you go, it is better for you to 
understand me thoroughly. I believe there 
is oue chance for your friend, which, properly 
worked, may unlock his prison door. Shall I 
try that chance, or not ? It is a question for 
you to decide. I will not hurry your de- 
cision. Take till ten o'clock to-morrow 
morning, and then give me an answer. On 
the one hand, liberty for the man you pro- 
fess to love ; on the other, happiness to the 
man who loves you. For I do love you as 
Mr. Danenever could. I ask nothing from. 
you unless he walks out a free man. 
Should that day never come till the term of 
his sentence has expired, you will remain at 



HIS PBICE. 137 

perfect liberty to greet him when he returns 
to you." 

" And he is ill — perhaps dying now." 

" I know nothing of that ; He may or he 
may not be ill. As I said before, you ought 
to attach no importance to an anonymous 
letter." 

" But I dreamt last night he was dead." 

" I really fear I consider a dream of less 
importance even than an anonymous letter." 

"And if he did die?" 

"I should say he would be better dead 
than alive at Portland."* 

She did not answer. She looked down at 
the carpet, then up at Mr. Gayre, then down 
at the carpet again before she said, 

" I will go now. I am sorry to have given 
so much trouble." 

" You will return to North Bank ? " 

She shrank at the sound of the name, 
and said, 

"Oh, no— no!" 



138 S USA^ DR UMMONl). 

" As you wish, of course. You must allow 
me to see you to Islington." 

'" Don't, please don't ! " she entreated, with 
a fervour which was far from complimentary. 

"Just as you like. My servant shall go 
with you. I will send him for a cab." 

" I would much rather walk." 

" As this will most likely be the last time 
on which you may ever be harassed by my 
advice, I must entreat of you to do what I 
counsel now. You are in no state to walk, 
even were such a course fitting. I will not 
intrude further upon you till Eawlings has 
procured a conveyance." 

He did not trust himself to stay longer 
with her. He knew he had spoken roughly, 
barbarously, yet he felt that the words 
uttered were as nothing in comparison with 
those he had kept back, and enough of 
manly instinct still remained to make him 
dread a prolongation of the interview. Had 
she gone on crying and breaking her heart, 



HIH TRICE. 139 

had she pleaded to him for help and mercy, 
he might have at least kept the devil, that 
was tearing him sore, out of sight ; but the 
horrible disappointment of finding she would 
not even entertain a thought of buying her 
lover's liberty on the terms proposed was more 
than he could bear. 

'' Let her try what she can do, even with 
Fife's help," he thought bitterly ; " and if 
Dane die while the affair has been messed 
up and muddled, she will at least have 
the consolation of knowing she remained 
true to her sex, if not to her lover. Yet 
I was a brute. What other answer could 
I expect ? " 

Had he only been able to obtain a 
glimpse of Susan's mind, he would have 
found the very abruptness of his declaration, 
the suddenness by which she was made 
aware of the nature of his feelings, had pro- 
duced an effect on the o-irl's imaa:ination vears 
of ofentle wooincr must have failed to do. 



I40 S US AX DR UMMOND. 

She felt horror-stricken as he laid bare 
before her the passion of his soul, and her 
strongest sentiment, next to what Oliver 
was to do, proved an absorbing pity for 
the man who loved her vainly, and a deep 
reproach towards herself. 

" I ought to have known," she thought, 
as she sat looking into the depths of the 
blazing fire, that seemed no fiercer than 
the heart the secret of which she had been 
allowed to see. "I have been all wrong. 
This was what Margaret was insinuating 
the other day. If we live in the world 
there are things we must not blind our- 
selves to," and she covered her face, though 
there was no one but herself, to hide the 
shamed blushes crimsoning her cheeks as tlie 
full nature of the position in which she had 
placed herself was, in its nakedness, revealed. 

" Your cab is at the door, ma'am," said 
Eawlings, just as she reached this culminat- 
ing point of utter misery. 



HIS PEICE. 141 

Instinctively she drew down her veil ere 
passing out into the hall, where Mr. Gayre 
stood waiting for her. Gravely he offered 
his arm, which she just touched with the 
tips of her fingers. Eawlings opened the 
cab door, and, at a sign from his master, 
mounted the box beside the driver, while 
Mr. Gayre, standing bareheaded on the 
pavement, said, in a low voice, 

" Shall I come for your answer to-morrow, 
or should you like me to send for it ? " 

She paused a second. His question put 
the whole of the issue at stake into a con- 
crete form before her. 

" I will write," she at last murmured. 

" Eemember that after to-morrow / can 
do nothing.' 

"Nothmg?" 

" Nothing w^hatever. And now, in case 
we never meet again (whether we do or 
not rests wholly with yourself), let me say 
good-bye and God bless you ! " 



142 S USA^'' BE UMMOND. 

He was gone. Before she had time to 
speak, almost before she was able to draw 
back the hand she had half stretched forth 
to lay on his, she saw him pass out of 
the darkness of night into the solitude of 
his desolate home. The door closed behind 
him, and she was driving with her own 
memories and fears, for bitter company, 
through the streets. 

There are assuredly times in life when 
we are incapable of sustained thought. At 
such periods the mind drifts like a dead 
thing over the ocean of being ; it is tossed 
by the waves and buffeted by the currents 
and driven by the wind ; but, till it awakens 
in a different hereafter, it knows next to 
nothing of the tempest it has ridden through 
— the incongruous points it has touched, the 
abysses it has swept over. 

Mr. Gayre had reached that state. 
Thought was out of the question. Im- 
pulse and passion had urged him on till. 



HIS PEICE. 143 

among billows of temptation, the better life 
was beaten well-nigh into insensibility. He 
paced the room till he was weary, but when, 
exhausted, he flung himself into his chair, 
he could not rest. Once again, driven by 
the fiends within him, he was forced to 
resume that ceaseless march, up and down- 
up and down, till he had walked miles over 
those few yards of carpet. 

His servant was a long time absent. 
Islington might, to his irritable fancy, have 
been in Africa, judging from the period 
occupied in covering the distance. 

Three times had he rung to inquire if 
Eawlings were back and he was just about 
to ring again, when the man entered with 
a note. 

"I was detained, Colonel," he said apolo- 
getically ; " the lady kept me over an hour 
while she wrote this letter. You have 
been wanting me, sir?" 

"Yes — no — it does not matter, now," an- 



144 S USAN DR UMMOND. 

swered his master, scarcely waiting till the 
door closed ere tearing open Susan's 
missive. 

"I cannot stop till morning," these were 
the words it contained, " to tell you that 
I have made up my mind — / agree.'" 

She had added a line after this, and 
then blotted it out. Despite his earnest 
endeavour, Mr. Gayre failed to gather 
what she had written and deleted ; but 
there stood forth, as if in letters of fire, 
the sentence he once never expected to 
read — / agree. She did not trouble him 
with the reasons which had caused so ex- 
traordinary a change, she made no prayer, 
put forward no excuse ; the paper was not 
stained with tears, the caligraphy was clear 
as usual. In the travail of her soul such a 
decision could only have been born, yet 
there was no hint of agony in the cold 
■decision of her resolve. 

" I AGREE ! " After hope was dead, at a 



HIS PRICE. 145 

moment wheu despair was holding high 
carnival in his soul, he had got what he 
wanted. Success was his at last ; and suc- 
cess had come thus. 

After a time, when the first astonishment 
was over, and his scattered senses began 
slowly to return to their owner, he sat 
down and wrote Susan a long letter. 

What he said he never afterwards could 
clearly remember ; but it calmed and com- 
forted him. After the fret and turmoil of 
the week he felt indeed strangely tranquil 
when, in the early morning, he went out 
to drop his letter in a pillar-box near at 
hand. 

" I will call," he had written, " about nine 
to-morrow to see you ; " and behold it was 
to-morrow already, and he had but time 
to snatch a few hours' sleep ere Eawlings 
roused him with the words, 

" Seven o'clock. Colonel ! " 

Vol. iii. 58 



CHAPTEE YI. 



ON THE MARINE PARADE. 



%H^ONG ere Eawlings awoke his master 
iSHi out of that sound 6'leep which can 
only be induced by utter mental or physical 
exhaustion, Susan Drummond was about 
her business. She had made up her mind 
on the previous night what she meant to 
do, and starting from fitful slumbers she 
rose before a streak of dawn tinged the 
darkness, to begin a work out of which all 
hope and happiness was eaten. 

But even in the first anguish of her self- 
abnegation she was not miserable. She 
had given up everything to try to save her 
lover, and she did not mean now to make her 
own task harder and his life wretched by 



ON THE MABINE PARADE. 147 

looking idly back on a past which seemed 
more remote as well as more beautiful than 
those far-away hours of childhood when slie 
first knew Oliver Dane. 

If she were able to save him, if by any 
sacrifice she could give him life and freedom, 
what did her personal sacrifices matter ? 

She had always hoped and prayed that 

if a great trouble came to her she should 

be given strength to bear it bravely. The 

fretting of uncertainty was what had broken 

her health and bruised her spirit. Xow 

there could be no more uncertainty. She 

had cast all on one great die in a game, 

the stake for which was Oliver Dane's liberty. 

She had done all she could, and she felt 

content. For the first time since the trial, 

since that desperate cry of "I am innocent!" 

rent the silence of the court, she could think 

of her lover without hot tears rising to her 

eyes — without feeling a wild sick desire to 

rush off and tear the very walls of his prison- 

53—2 



148 *S USAK BE UMMOND. 

house with her poor impotent fingers, so that 
she might be doing something to lessen the 
barrier between him and God's free earth. 

In her anguish she had cried aloud in the 
night-time. When there was scarce a star 
to be seen, when the moonbeams cast lines 
of mournful silver light on floor and walls, 
and threw masses of chequered and chang- 
ing brilliancy into the darkness of her 
chamber, she rose and paced the apartment's 
narrow limits, and wondered whether those 
cold sorrowful rays were piercing the gloom 
of Oliver's cell : whether his heart was break- 
ing at the thought of the time when they 
together, hand locked in hand, looked 
up into the heaven of the tender summer 
night, their happy souls too full for speech. 

But now all that was over ; to that great 
unrest had succeeded a period of almost 
unnatural repose. She would have given 
her Hfe for him, but as no one wanted her 
life, she had sacrificed something which she 



ON THE MARIXE FAEABE. 149 

felt to be more valuable — her future. Yet 
not sacrificed ; for she flung the gift thank- 
fully and with rejoicing at the feet of a man 
who would never know the price she had 
paid for his freedom. 

It was a changed Susan who went down- 
stairs at the appointed hour to meet Mr. 
Gay re. 

He looked at the girl with wonder. 
Where were the tears, the passion of grief, 
the sorrowful scorn of his own meanness he 
had witnessed only the previous night ? The 
tears were spent, the passion was over ; the 
girl Susan had departed into that shadowy 
land of memory, from out of which, any 
more than from the grave, no friend who 
once vanishes into it may return to smile 
upon or greet us save in mournful recol- 
lection, and in her place stood a woman who 
would never again laugh with the gladness, 
or weep with the passion, or mourn with 
the despair, he remembered so well. 



I so S USAK BE UMMOM). 

She gave him her hand, but it lay cold and 
still in his, like a dead thing ; in her sweet 
eyes he saw deep depths of sorrow, but no 
light of welcome ; the very tone of her 
voice was different. A swift wave of remorse 
swept over Mr. Gay re as he looked on the 
change wrought by a single night. Had he 
killed her, he could scarce have felt more a 
murderer than in that first moment of 
remorse ; but the emotion rested on his soul 
no longer than a passing shadow. The 
woman seemed dearer to him than the girl 
had ever been ; her beauty greater ; the 
grave dignity of her manner, the unutter ably 
sad cadence in her tone, proved more captiva- 
ting- to his middle age than the young 
charm and gay grace of the Susan Drummond 
he should never see again. 

Always he had felt there was a chord in 
Susan touched as yet by no one ; and now 
he understood the nature of its harmony, 
there arose an evil rejoicing that his had been 



OK THE MAEIXE PAEADE. 151 

the hand to awaken the full deep swell a 
human heart never gives forth till, having 
eaten of the tree, it becomes as a god, 
knowing good and evil. 

Yes, he had done this, and so become 
a part and parcel of her life for ever. Let 
her forget what else she might, it would be 
impossible for her to forget him. The lore 
he had taught her was more subtle and 
mysterious than love, for it showed her 
the sin love is capable of begetting, told her 
something of the terror of passion; whereas 
hitherto she had tasted only its sweetness. 

In one night she had grown afraid of him, 
too ; afraid of the wrong a man will do, not 
merely though he loves a woman, but because 
he does so. Already she had graduated in 
a school many of her sex — maids, wives, and 
mothers — never enter ; nay, of the very 
existence of which some remain in igfnorance. 

She dreaded both his power and his will. 
Once she thought of him but as an ordinary 



1 52 S us AN DE UMMOND. 

friend ; now she recognised him for an enemy. 
If he had not seen the change in her face, 
Mr. Gayre would have known from the first 
words she spoke that, since they parted on 
the previous evening she had thought more 
about him than during all the preceding 
months of their acquaintance. 

" I received your letter," she began. 
" Thank you for writing it ; but we need 
not talk about what you said in it, need we ? " 

" If you see no need," he answered, " we 
will not discuss the matter. I think, 
however — " 

" At all events we need not talk about it 
yeU'' she interrupted. " Perhaps," she added, 
looking at him, as if trying to read his very 
soul, " we might never have to discuss it." 

''You mean in the event of my efforts 
proving abortive ? " 

" Partly that ; " and her eyes fell under 
a sfaze steadier than her own. 

"It is better you should understand me 



ox THE MABIXE PABADE. 153 

clearly," he said, and the change in her voice 
was not more marked than that in his " lie- 
member, I shall hold you to your promise I I 
know if you chose to cheat me you could ; 
but I am sure you would not cheat me." 

" No," she replied slowly ; " you know I 
would not cheat you." 

" Neither will I delude you — do not 
imagine I shall release you from your bargain 
— it was optional with you to make it. There 
is time even yet to cancel it — do you wish to 
cancel it ? " 

" Not unless I could save Oliver by other 
means." 

"It is still doubtful, remember, whether 
he can be saved by any — " 

" So you told me in your letter." 

" And as it was optional with you to enter 
into such an agreement, so it will be 
optional with me whether I hold you to it 
or not. I shall. It is only fair to tell you 
this, to warn you to expect nothing 



1 54 -S' USAX DB UMMOXD. 

either from my weakness or my generosity. 
And do not say to yourself ' If he loved me, 
he would not exact such a price,' for you 
would be wrong. It is precisely because I do 
love as only men like mj^self who have passed 
their youth can love, that I swear if any 
human being can compass Mr. Dane's liberty 
he shall walk out free. Then you must 
marry me. I leave it all to your honour, 
5^ou see. Were I wise, perhaps I should 
stipulate for my price first ; but I trust 
you implicitly — I, who once thought never 
to trust a woman again." 

"You may trust me." 

"And some day you will love me. Do 
not shake your head ; no woman marries 
her first lover ; indeed, I do not believe 
the woman lives that could tell who her 
first lover was. I have no doubt Oliver 
Dane was not yours." 

" I have loved him all my life." 

" And no one else ? " 



0^ THE MARINE PARADE. 155 

" No one else ! '' 

" Then I shall have only one rival ! " he 
remarked. 

" I want to say somethmg to you, Mr. 
Gayre." 

" What is it ? " 

" He must never know." 

"I do not understand you." 

She twisted her white fingers nervously 
together. 

"Never know why I did it. Let him 
think me fickle, false, wicked. I would 
rather he supposed me the worst girl ever 
breathed than that he came to understand 
I had done what you ask for his sake. 
Liberty would not be sweet ; he would fancy 
the very air tainted, if he knew the price 
I had paid to set him free." 

" Are you not mistaken ? Is not Mr. 
Oliver Dane a gentleman who would prize 
liberty on any terms ? " 

"No. And it is you who are mistaken. 



1 56 S USAX DR UMMOXD. 

Mr. Gayre, why is it you hate him so 
much — he, who neyer injured }'ou ? " 

" You loye him," was the answer, and a 
dead silence supervened. 

"There is another thing I must tell you." 

" If it be of the same nature, it might 
be well to defer the communication till we 
meet again." 

" It cannot be deferred. I had another 
letter last night." 

"From whom?" 

" I do not know ; but in the same hand- 
writing as that I showed you." 

" And—" 

" It said, ' No time should be lost if any- 
thing were to be done for Oliver Dane. 
Some word of hope ought at least to be 
sent to him at once.' Can any word of 
that sort be sent him ? " 

" I do not know ; my acquaintance with 
prison rules is, unfortunately, of the 
slio'htest." 



OK THE MABIXE PAEADE. 157 

" But 5^ou will ascertain ? " 

"Yes, I will ascertain. For my own 
sake I do not desire that any harm should 
happen to Mr. Dane." 

" Sorrow enough will meet him. 0, Mr 
Gayre, how can you ? If you were fond of 
any one, I would not try to take you from 
her — not if I cared for 3^ou as much as — " 

" You do not," he finished. 

" That was scarcely what I was about to 
say ; but — " 

" It will serve, and is perhaps a shade 
more courteous than the form you had in 
your mind. Again, believe me you are 
mistaken, or else you are an exception to 
ever}^ rule of your charming sisterhood. I 
have seen — great Heavens ! what have I not 
seen done by women ! No trick has been 
too cruel, no artifice too mean, to sever 
lovers, to entice a man's heart. Ay, and I 
have known worse than that. I have 
known a woman set out with the deliberate 



1 58 S us AN DR UMMOND, 

intention of winning affections she meant 
to fling away, and did fling away, as a 
child casts aside a broken toy. I have 
known the best years of a man's life 
ruined because he found himself jilted by 
such a woman — -his faith destroyed, his 
hopes blasted, his belief in j)urity, goodness, 
honour, ay, even common honesty, shaken 
to its foundations." 

She could not answer him. Because she 
had no knowledge of how such things 
affected a man, was it competent for her 
to deny their reality ? 

Further, she grasped he was talking of 
himself — that in the background of his 
life's picture there lurked just such a 
woman as he had indicated — smiling, fair, 
false. 

" No," he went on less vehemently, 
"believe me, nor man nor woman can tell 
the evil that ' desperately wicked ' thing 
the heart is capable of conceiving and 



ON THE MABIXK FARADE. 159 

executing till it is placed where its poAver 
for sin has a full and fair chance of 
development. You have no right to say 
what you would or what you would not 
do. How can you know. You have no 
experience to fall back upon ; you are 
like one walking in darkness who thinks 
he sees. Yesterday morning nothing would 
have seemed more incredible to you than 
that you should promise to marry me. 
Who can predict what a day will bring 
forth? Who dare say temptation shall not 
tempt, wrong shall not conquer me?" 

" I cannot tell,'' she said, answering his 
thoughts rather than his words. " All I 
know is that, whether right or wrong, 
what I have done has been done for 
Oliver. If it be a sin, I cannot help it. 
There seems no other way in which it 
is possible for me to serve him. It may 
be I ought not to commit so great a 
wrong to you, myself, and him ; but I 



1 60 S us AX DR UMMOND. 

cannot think of liim ill, dying perhaps, 
and remain firm while there remains even 
a chance of saving him. I am only a 
woman after all." 

"If you were only a woman you would 
consider yourself first and your lover last. 
It is because you are what you are — " 

" Do not go on, please," she entreated ; 
and he stopped suddenly, knowing what 
she meant — namely, that it was outside 
their contract to speak about love till his 
portion of the compact was fulfilled. 

" What are you doing Oliver ? " she 
asked after a pause, during which she had 
sat listening to the howling of the wind — 
it was a boisterous morning — and fancying 
what words her lover traced in its sound. 

"I have done nothing yet. I am going- 
to-day to see a person I think may do 
something." 

"Then why—" 

" Do I not go about the business at once ? 



0^' THE MABiyE PAJRADE. i6i 

I could tell you, but I do not like. Yet I 
will tell you. I stayed here because I 
am mad — because I could not help saying 
and doing and looking that which makes you 
hate me. But I will leave you now, and not 
come again till I am able to say either I have 
some hope of obtaining his release or that 
I shall never be able to obtain it ; " and 
without word or touch or glance of farewell 
he was gone, leaving Susan more utterly 
alone than she had ever felt before. He had 
been her friend, and he could be her friend 
no more. The only news it was ever Hkely 
he should bring her would be death to all 
hope for her lover, or the tidings that the 
date of her own execution was nigh at 
hand. 

" Can I go through with it ? she thought, 
with a sickening horror ; and then the cou- 
rage which had carried so many a Drummond 
high above all considerations of danger and 
supported him in death rose strong and 

Vol. iii. 54 



i62 SUSAN DEUMMOKB. 

great witliin lier. " It is for Oliver," she 
whispered, and clasped the talisman of her 
lover's name closer to her loyal heart. 

Meanwhile Mr. Gayre was hurrying City- 
wards, as if pursued by a thousand demons. 
He had done the things he ought not to have 
done, and left undone those he ought to have 
done. He had sneered at Susan, whose 
tender nature was vulnerable to all his 
shafts. He had twitted her with love for 
her lover, as if a woman should not believe 
her lover without peer. He had failed to 
comfort — nay, rather he had torn her. He 
had been — good Heavens ! what had he not 
been ? 

" But at least," he thought, while slacken- 
ing his pace as he drew near Prince's Street, 
" she shall find no half-hear tedness with me 
in the matter of Oliver Dane. The sooner 
he is released the better I shall be pleased ; " 
and before repairing to his own place of 
business he turned into the office of Messrs. 



Oy THE MAEIXE PARADE. 163 

Colvend and Surlees, wliicli was close to 
Lothbury. 

" Mr. Colvend in ? " he asked a porter. 

"No, sir. Mr. Colvend has gone to 
Brighton." 

" Can I see Mr. Surlees ? " 

" Mr. Surlees is out, sir. He will not be 
back to-day. I think he is going down to 
Brighton also this afternoon." 

Since his first glimpse of Susan Drummond, 
some check had always interposed between 
Mr. Gayre and whatever purpose he might 
have in view ; but he meant to take no 
check now. Less civilly than usual, because 
hitherto he had always striven to be cour- 
teous towards persons in the City, even 
though his heart was not one with them, tlie 
banker remarked : 

" I suppose, however, there is some person 
in charge to whom I can speak on 
business ? " 

" Certainly, sir — Mr. Fife, sir. Perhaps 

54—2 



1 64 -S USA^' DE UMMOND. 

you will walk into Mr. Colvend's room, and 
sit down for a moment. I will tell Mr. Fife 
you are here." 

Mr. Fife, in the character of chief clerk in 
the old-established and steady-going firm of 
Col vend and Surlees, seemed a very different 
person from the insolent individual who in 
his own, had bullied and taunted Mr. Gayre 
in Wimpole Street. The atmosphere of the 
City, and the consciousness he was only a 
person in the receipt of salary, had so 
impregnated the manner of his working 
hours that it was at first quite a deferential 
and cringing Samuel who, in a couple of 
minutes, entered Mr. Colvend's private room, 
and said, 

" I hope I have not kept you waiting, 
sir. 

Troubled as he was, Mr. Gayre could have 
laughed outright. The famous story of 
those bankers in Newcastle who, when the 
great hair movement first made a stir. 



ox THE MARINE PARADE. 165 

intimated to their clerks that, " though out of 
business hours they should not presume to 
dictate what their employes were to wear, yet 
within those limits they must request the 
absence of moustaches," recurred to him. 

Drink, however, unlike a man's own hair, 
can have its times and seasons ; and during 
business hours Mr. Fife never indulged in any 
wilder carouse than half a pint of bitter. 

" I am sorry to find Mr. Colvend absent,'* 
said Mr. Gay re ; "I wished to speak to 
him." 

" On a private matter, or on business 
connected with the firm ? " 

"On a private matter," 

" ! Can I be of any assistance to 
you ? " 

" You can give me Mr. Colvend's address." 

" And so the cat ate up the blackbird, and 
things went on as usual," commented Mr. 
Fife ; and he took a rapid turn up and down 
the room. 



1 66 S US AN JDR UMMOXD. 

"I have no doubt there is profound 
wisdom underlying your remark ; but, 
wanting the key—" 

•' Being eaten up meant a good deal to the 
blackbird, but nobody else was much con- 
cerned by the catastrophe. Heaven and 
earth are likely to crash together in the 
Colvend establishment ; but in Lombard 
Street people will try to overdraw their 
balances just as usual. And I don't suppose 
any difference in the Bank-rate will be 
reported to-morrow." 

" If you will kindly give me Mr. Colvend' s 
address, I need not detain you longer." 

Mr.. Fife did not answer. He took another 
turn over the Turkey carpet ere he said, 

" Man and boy, I've been in this office a 
matter of — But that does not signify. What I 
was thinking is, I'll have to clear out now." 

" It certainly does not seem likely that you 
will be entreated to remain," commented 
Mr. Gayre. 



ON THE MARIXE PARADE. 167 

" I wonder if I have been a great 
fool ! " 

"That is a point on which no one can 
possibly arrive at so accurate an opinion as 
yourself." 

" Anyhow, I'm not going to draw back 
now. That young minx shan't have every- 
thing her own way. When were you think- 
ing of going down, Mr. Gay re ? " 

" By the next train." 

" Better not. Stop till after ^ye o'clock, 
and I'll go too. You will want me, you 
know." 

" H — m," remarked Mr. Gayre, doubtfully. 
Well, 3'es — perhaps I shall." 

"You won't find it all plain sailing," said 
Mr. Fife. " Miss iDossie can lie through a 
deal board, and make her father believe her. 
You must see him and Mr. Surlees together, 
and I ought to be one of the happy 
party." 

" I have no particular objection. But how 



i6« S USAy DM UMMOND. 

are we to insure the presence of Mr. 
Surlees?" 

" How ? He will be there, of course : 
where your treasure is — you remember." 

'' I have not an idea what you mean." 

" Why, that he is going to marry that 
simple, innocent, fragile, timid darling, Miss 

Dossie, her ! " and Mr. Fife turned white 

with rage, and tramped up and down the 
room, as though he were treading over Miss 
Dossie's body. 

" She has cursed my life," he said ; *' but 
she'll find she has met with her match. I"ll 
stop the publication of those banns, anyhow." 

"I hope and trust you will be able to 
prove your story. It would be exceedingly 
awkward if " 

" I know that," interrupted Mr. Fife ; 
" and I tell you fairly, we'll have a lot of 
bother both with the old man and the young 
lady. That is one reason why I want to 
go down with you. I can say what you 



ON THE MARIXE PARADE. 169 

can't say. I'll not let either father or 
daughter humbug me.'' 

" Do you think, then, that they could 
humbug me ? " 

" They would try," said Mr. Fife, in a tone 
which suggested he considered the attempt 
might not be wholly unsuccessful. 

" In that case we will go to Sussex Square 
together," said Mr. Gayre, glancing at the 
slip of paper on which the manager had 
written Mr. Colvend's address. 

"Not nice weather for a trip to the sea- 
side, is it ? " suggested Mr. Fife ; and then he 
opened the door for the banker to pass out, 
and deferentially attended liim through the 
outer office. 

At that moment the same idea crossed the 
minds of both men. 

" I shan't cross this floor many more 
times," thought Mr. Fife. 

" He has paid tolerably dear for Iuj^ 
whistle," considered Mr. Gayre. 



1 70 S USAK DR UMMOND. 

As the I express rushed down to Brighton 
that evening the wind howled and tore 
around the train, and seemed to be trying 
races with it. It had been a wild day, and a 
wilder nio-ht was coming; on. There was 
scarcely , a creature about on the Marine 
Parade when Mr. Gay re and his companion 
walked in the direction of Kemp Town ; but 
at almost the loneliest part of the road 
there stood a female, wrapped in a long- 
cloak, looking out seaward, into the black 
and dreary night. Neither man noticed her. 
Mr. Fife was speaking, and Mr. Gayre's head 
was turned towards him. 

" I suppose you have squared matters with 
Miss Drummond," the manager said ; " be- 
cause if not — " and the remainder of his 
sentence was lost in a sudden gust of wind. 

The woman turned and stared after the 
retreating figures. It was Susan Drum- 
mond. 

She had that day fled from London with 



ON THE MARIXE PARADE. 171 

lier nurse, leaving a note for Mr. Gayre, 
stating she felt she must get away for a 
short time, and promising to send her 
address when settled. 

A terrible unrest had again taken pos- 
session of her, but it was pli3^sical rather 
than mental. She could not remain still. 
The stormy blast was no fiercer than the 
feyer coursing through her yeins ; inyisible 
hands seemed drawing her into the night ; 
voices, audible but to herself, cried to her 
from the sea ; the darkness was filled with 
fantastic shapes ; everything appeared 
different from what was actually the case. 
A moment after Mr. Gayre had passed she 
began to doubt whether she had really 
seen him, whether the words were not a 
delusion of her own brain. 

" I wonder what is the matter with me ? " 
she thought. " I suppose I ought to go 
home." 

She did not, however, make any effort to 



1 72 S USAy DE UMMOND. 

do SO. She remained, with the wind buffeting 
her, with the sea moanino- and lamentin^jf 
below, with the night getting wilder, and 
the gloom growing denser, till a hand was 
laid on her arm, and the old servant, who 
had been anxiously seeking her, said : 

" My dear, what are you doing ? You 
w411 catch your death of cold." 

" I do not know what I have been doing," 
she answered. " Where am I ? Oh, nurse, 
take me somewhere — anywhere away from 
all these dreadful people and this horrible 
noise ! " 






CHAPTER ^11. 

WHAT MR. GAYKE WISHED. 

^HAT have you done with Susan, 
liyil Gayre ? " asked Sir Geoffrey 
Chelston, walkino- one morning into tlie 
dining-room at Wimpole Street, where his 
brother-in-law sat at breakfast. "Now that 
I have caught you I mean to get an explicit 
answer. I call here, and I call at the bank, 
and 3^ou are never to be found. I write 
to you, and for reply I receive something 
to the effect that if / could tell you 
where Miss Drummond is, you would be 
much obliged to me. I can hear neither 
tale nor tiding of the girh Her aunt does 
not know where she is, or her cousin, or 
Lai Hilderton, or Mrs. Jubbins. And 1 



1 74 S US AX LR UMMOXD. 

don't know; aucl I may just as well tell 
you, I consider the whole afiair deucedly 
strange. I left Susan in this house, and 
I've never set eyes on her since." 

"Do you suppose she is in this house 
still? "asked Mr. Gayre, buttering a piece 
of toast with great deliberation. 

" I do not know what to suppose. One 
way and another, 1 feel distracted. I half 
suspect Sudlow wants to cry off. And now 
there's Susan. If you do not know where 
she is, you ought to know, Gayre ; that is 
my candid opinion." 

" Miss Drummond is at Brighton." 

"Brighton! What on earth took her 
there ? " 

" To get ill, I suppose ; at any rate she 
has been ill." 

"And why could you not have told me 
all this long ago ? " 

" Because I have only been acquainted 
with her address since eight o'clock this 



WHAT MB. GAYEE WISHED, 175 

morning. She has had fever or something 
of the sort, and was unable to write. She 
is getting better now." 

" I feel a load taken off my mind," cried 
the Baronet. " Ton my soul, I have been 
madly anxious about the poor girl. Best 
girl in the whole world ; and to think of her 
being laid up all alone at Brighton." 

" She isn't alone ; she has some former 
servant with her. Won't you have some 
breakfast, Sir Geoffrey ? " 

"Xot a morsel, thank you — must be off. 
And yet, now I think of it, if you could 
just let your man bring me a glass of beer, 
I fancy I might manage a slice of that cold 
beef — second thoughts, you know, eh, 
Gayre? " 

Ish. Gayre rose and rang the bell. As he 
returned to his seat the Baronet eyed him 
critically. 

" I say," he cried, " what's up ? What have 
you been doing to yourself? Why, you 



1 76 S us AN BB UMMOND, 

are losiDg all your flesh ; you are not half 
the man you were a month ago ! No panic 
in the City, I hope ? " 

" If there were, I do not suppose it could 
aiFect me much. A house which does not 
go in for great gains cannot afford to incur 
the risk of heavy losses. No, I have been 
worried to death about that Dane business. 
I had better have gone and hanged myself 
before meddling in the matter." 

" Ah, by-the-bye," said Sir Geoffrey, with 
guileless innocence, " what is this I hear 
about Dane ? " 

" I don't know what you may have heard 
about him." 

" Why, that he is not guilty, and all the 
rest of it." 

" Who says he is not guilty ? " 

"That is beyond me to tell you. There 
was a paragraph about him in the Chelston 
Banner, a vile, low Eadical broadsheet. 
Wookes sent it up to me marked. The 



WHAT MB. GAYEE WISHED. 177 

London Correspondent stated lie had good 
reason to believe the whole case would be 
reopened ; that it was whispered one of the 
parties engaged in what seemed to be a 
most nefarious plot against the young man's 
reputation was about to give himself up to 
justice; that a thorough investigation had 
been solicited ; that extraordinary facts had 
already come to light, and further startling 
revelations might be expected ; that a 
gentleman in the City, possessed of wealth 
and influence, had gone into the matter 
heart and soul ; and that it was chiefly 
owing to his exertions the whole villanous 
conspiracy was exposed. Several romantic 
circumstances were connected with the case, 
and the name of a young lady freely whis- 
pered as having taken a somewhat active 
part in the affair." 

During the course of this recital Mr. Gayre's 
face was a study. His colour changed from 
white to red and from red to white once more ; 

Vol. iii. 55 



178 SUSAX BBUMMOyn. 

he compressed his lips, an angry light shone 
in his eyes, and he struck the table passion- 
ately as he said, 

" That scoundrel will make a nice mess of 
the wiiole matter." 

'' Dear me ! Then there is something in it ! 
Poor, poor Susan, I am so glad ! If you 
I'emember, Gayre, I always said Dane was 
innocent. When you were hardest upon him, 
I maintained no young fellow, born and 
brought up as he was, could have sunk into a 
common thief." 

"You did no such thing," retorted Mr. 
Gayre. '' You said he was guilty, and com- 
plained he would not make a clean breast of 
the matter." 

" No, excuse me, Gayre, it was you." 

"Excuse me, Sir Geoffrey, no man could 
have spoken more strongly than yourself — " 

" Of course, m his behalf ! When all the 
world was against him I raised my voice, 
and-" 



WHAT MB. GAYBE WISHED. 179 

With a muttered oath Mr. Gayre pushed 
back his chair and rose from the table. 

" I know of old," he said, " it is of no use 
trying to pin you down to any statement, or 
expecting you to remember anything except 
what suits your own convenience ; but I tell 
you fairly I am not in any mood to stand 
much more of this fooling. Would to Heaven 
I had died before I ever heard the name of 
Oliver Dane ; and I wish I could go to some 
part of the earth w^here I should never 
hear it again ! " 

After which expression of opinion, Mr. 
Gayre left Sir Geoffrey to his meditations. 

The baronet shook his head. 

" Poor fellow ! " he said, in audible soliloquy^ 
" he's harder hit than I thought ; shouldn't 
mind betting something now his chances are 
not worth a brass farthing, or half the money. 
Pity, too ! Well, I did all in mi/ power. It 
was a match I should have liked vastly. 
Lord, who'd have thought of things taking 



55—2 



1 80 S us AX DB UMMOND. 

the tiirii they have ! Daresay Dane will get 
a lot of damages out of those rich beggars. 
Hope he'll chance on a good solicitor — some 
sharp lawyer up to his work ; that's what I've 
wanted all my life. Must talk to Susan about 
it." And Sir Geoffrey went to the sideboard, 
and poured himself out another tumbler of 
beer ; having drunk which, and casually 
remarked to vacancy that his throat was as 
dry as a whistle, he went off about his busi- 
ness, whatever that might be. 

Meantime, in hot rage, Mr. Gayre had 
chartered a hansom, and drove down to the 
Borough, in a street off which thoroughfare 
Mr. Fife had hired a "second-floor front," 
large enough to contain himself and all his 
worldly possessions. His first interview with 
Mr. Colvend on the great Dane question 
proved his last. He was not permitted to 
remain long enough in the office, even to 
balance his petty cash ; and had there been 



WHAT MB. GAYEE WISHED. i8i 

anything wrong in his accounts, things would 
have gone badly with him. Usually the 
mildest of human beings, Mr. Colvend's in- 
dignation against the ex-manager knew no 
bounds ; and when Mr. Fife insisted upon 
being brought face to face with the fragile 
Dossie, he absolutely refused to produce his 
daughter till Mr. Surlees said, in common 
justice, that young lady should hear the 
charge made against her. 

That young lady denied everything. She 
clung to her father ; she asked how he or any 
one else could believe such dreadful stories 
about her ; she declared she had never 
written a letter to Mr. Fife or spoken to him, 
except in her father's office, in her life. She 
looked at Mr. Surlees with great appealing 
eyes shining through a mist of tears, and said, 
" Surely you won't desert me ; " she called 
Mr. Fife a " bad, wicked man ; " she ran up 
and down the gamut of all her little arts and 
graces, and finally bursting into a torrent of 



1 82 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

passionate tears, rushed from the room, Mr. 
Gayre, with deadly courtesy, opening the door 
for her. 

Mr. Colvend followed his daughter with 
feeble and tottering steps ; already lie looked 
an old and broken man. 

When he was left alone with Mr. Gayre and 
the manager, Mr. Surlees rose, walked to the 
hearth, and standing with his back to the fire, 
and hands deep in his pockets, remarked, 

" Here's a nice kettle of fish." 

It was so nice a kettle of fish that not only 
had Miss Colvend lost her husband who was 
to have been, but a dissolution of partner- 
ship between Mr. Colvend and Mr. Surlees 
became imminent. 

"And whenever," remarked Mr. Fife to 
Mr. Gayre, " two men fight, if you notice 
some doiJ- <j;ets a kick. Fm the dos^ that has 
got kicked this time." 

" And serve you right," thought Mr. Gayre, 
but he did not say so. 



WHAT ME. GAYBE WISHED. 183 

Amongst the various persons concerned 
somehow or other, Mr. Dane's little aft air 
had come to a deadlock. Mr. Colvend po(jh- 
poohed the idea of taking action in the 
matter ; Mr. Surlees would not. Mr. Gay re 
was at a loss to know how to proceed. Time 
drifted on, and an innocent man lay at Port- 
land, figrhtinsr with disease and eatino' his 
heart out. 

" Cannot you get a message conveyed to 
him somehow ? " Mr. Gayre asked Mr. Fife 
who inquired what good that would do, unless 
some one meant really to push the matter 
ahead. 

''• / don't intend to let Miss Dossie and her 
papa walk over the course," said Mr. Fife, a 
little later. " Fit find a way of forcing their 
hand, or my name's not Samuel." 

" This, then, was Mr. Fife's notable scheme," 
considered Mr. Gayre, as the hansom swirled 
round corners and dashed along crowded 
thoroughfares. 



1 84 5 us AX BE UMMOXI). 

"It was you put tliat notice in the Clielstim 
paper," he said, entering Mr. Fife's room, 
where he found him busy smoking a pipe. 

" Even so — it was I." 

"And what object could you hope to 
compass by putting in such a rigmarole of 
nonsense ? " 

"It is not nonsense." 

" Why, who in the world is going to give 

iiimself up?" 

" I am, if things are not soon put on 
some different footing. I have got a friend — 
as clever a chap as you'd wish to meet — and 
he told me that was the best and only way 
to checkmate them and benefit myself." 

"I think it might be checkmate to you. 
So you have been taking advice about this 
business, Mr. Fife, have you ? " 

" Only in a general sort of way. I'm not 
a man likely to make confidants, unless I 
see my interest in doing so. I can keep 
my own counsel till I find it pays to open 



WHAT MR. frAYRE WISHED. 185 

my mouth. By the way, Mr. Gayre, have 
you ever been to Tooting ? " 

" No ; why do you ask ? " 

" 0, only out of curiosity. To revert to 
the Dane question : is it likely, do you sup- 
pose, that Messrs. Colvend and Surlees mean 
to stir in this matter at all ? " 

" Not if thev can avoid doinof so." 

" And they consider themselves honest 
and honourable men, I suppose ? " 

" Mr. Colvend does not believe your story." 

'' None so blind as those that wont 
see !" 

" And Mr. Surlees' notion is, Mr. Dane's 
friends are as well able to take up the 
matter as he. What I gather from his re- 
luctant remarks is, that he knows he must 
have a great deal of trouble about the matter, 
but he wants to have as little trouble as 
possible. He means, I see, to put no obstacle 
in tlie way, and is willing to faciUtate any 
steps which may be adopted to obtain Mr. 



1 8 5 S US AX DR UMMOXD. 

Dane's release. You can judge, therefore, 
tJie annoyance I feel at the unwise step you 
have taken." 

" 1 am not so sure it Avas a mistake," said 
Mr. Fife, with a nasty leer. 

"Xo?" questioned Mr. Gayre. "While I 
am here, Mr. Fife," he added, "pray oblige 
me by putting out that pipe. I don't want 
to a'o about the Citv reekino- of tobacco." 

"I have no wish to offend you," returned 
Mr. Fife, at once complying with the bank- 
er's request. " Upon my soul, I'd rather work 
for than against you, if only I could make 
you understand it's of no manner of use 
trying to gammon me. You see, I was not 
brought up to the genteel humbug sort of 
business, and I had to see so much and do 
so much of it at Colvend's that I'm more 
than a bit tired of trying to act the saint 
when I feel myself a sinner. Now to tell yuu 
what you came here in such haste to knoAV. 
Do I think that little paragraph in the pa])er 



WHAT MR. GAYRE WISHED. 187 

will Stir up Colvend and Surlees ? Xo, I 
don't — except to bitter wrath." 

" Then what made you put it in ? " 

" Well, you see, there are a few otlier 
persons on earth besides Colvend and 
Surlees." 

" Meaninor — " 

"Meaning in this especial connection ]\[r. 
Oliver Dane's friends." 

" I am afraid Mr. Oliver Dane has no 
friends except Miss Drummond." 

" Xot even you?" And at this juncture 
Mr. Fife took up bis pipe once more, but 
immediately laid it down again. 

"I have tried to do what I could — I 
hope I always shall continue to do what I 
can— for Mr. Dane— not, however, on his 
own account ; I never laid claim to being 
a friend of his." 

" Suppose we drop all disguise, Mr. Gayre, 
and talk as if we were — I really don't ex- 
actly know what : because, were I a part- 



1 83 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

ner, say, in Glyn's house, likely as not I 
should put a gloss on for you ; and suppos- 
ing—ah, that's it — supposing you were such 
as myself, what would you say to me, and 
I to you, eh? " 

"Eeally, Mr. Fife, I do not know; 
much the same, however, I imagine, as I 
am saying to you now, and you are say- 
ing to me." 

"Not a bit of it!" exclaimed Mr. Fife. 
" What I should say is this : "I meant to 
make one person speak, and that person's 
surname is Gayre, Christian name Nicholas. 
He has been trying to drift on with Miss 
Drummond, and now he knows he must 
speak if he does not want somebody else 
to forestall him ; and as he dislikes having 
his cattle hurried, he is furious with Samuel 
Fife for spurring them on a little." 

"Your knowledge of me and my motives 
seems exhaustive," observed Mr. Gayre. 

"I am very glad you think so, because 



WHAT MB. GAYBE WISHED. 189 

that is precisely my own opinion. I have 
o^iven a ofood deal of thouc^ht and attention 
to you, one time and another. Long before 
this question about Dane arose I used to 
wonder — wonder like the deuce — how any 
man in his sober senses could let a busi- 
ness such as yours go to the dogs." 

" Is the manner in which I conduct my 
business any concern of yours ? " 

" No ; I only wish it were. People would 
soon see some changes in Lombard Street 
that might surj)rise them. I know what is 
passing through your mind — ' bachelor's 
wives and old maid's children ; ' but a 
bachelor can surely tell when a man's wife 
is going wrong, and an old maid need 
scarcely be a Solomon to know her neigh- 
bour's boys are a set of unruly brats." 

" If my affairs have given you any 
amusement, Mr. Fife, I am sure I ought to 
feel gratified. As to Miss Drummond, even 
had I been disposed to repeat to her the 



I90 S USAX DB UMMOND. 

story of Miss Colvend's evil-doings, no op- 
portunity has presented itself for doing so. 
I have not seen Miss Drummond for nearly 
a month." 

" Why, what's the cause of that ? " 

" Illness, from which she is only now re- 



covermg.. 



"Whew!" whistled Mr. Fife. "That's a 
bad job. I wish I had known. If I had, 
I wouldn't have trumped your ace just yet." 

" It can't be helped," said Mr. Gayre ; 
accepting his own defeat and Mr. Fife's 
concession with an air of lofty magnani- 
mity. " I confess I did desire a little time 
in which to prepare Miss Drummond's mind 
for the fact that it might be possible to 
prove Mr. Dane innocent. Now, however, 
thanks to you, matters have reached a 
point which compels me to go straight 
from here to my soUcitors." 

" All right," answered Mr. Fife ; " and if 
they tell you there is only one way to 



WHAT MR. GAYRE WISHED. 



191 



clear Dane, I'll stand to what I said, and 
give myself up. Ask your solicitors 
whether they think I'd get clear off, and 
if not, the term for which I should be sen- 
tenced. I want to know, for more reasons 
than one." 

"Very well, I will ask them," agreed 
Mr. Gayre, wishing more than ever, as he 
made his way down the narrow staircase 
of a house let out in " apartments," he had 
never heard the name of Oliver Dane. 




CHAPTEK YIII. 

" HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO TOOTING ? " 

^T is somewhat humiliating to consider 
how much sickness and how little sorrow 
affects our personal appearance. A bad bilious 
attack will pull a man down more than the 
death of his wife ; toothache keeps a sufferer 
on whom it has fastened its fangs wide awake, 
though heartache often fails to do so. 

All her mental anguish — and there could be 
no question but that since the previous sum- 
mer, the girl had passed through a season of 
intense and continuous agony — had failed to 
work the change in Susan Drummond a few 
weeks of serious illness sufficed to do, 

Mr. Gayre felt unutterably shocked when, 
ushered into the room where she sat in an 



''HAVE YOU EVEIi BEEN TO TOOTISGV 193 

easy cliair propped up with pillows, he saw 
the havoc so short a time had wrought. 

Pale, wan, emaciated — a mere shadow of 
her former self — her eyes dull and weary, her 
listless hands thin and nerveless, her whole 
tired attitude that of one who had just 
returned worn out from so long a journey 
into the Dreadful Valley — it seemed almost 
as though she might better have gone on to 
the end of her awful pilgrimage, and entered 
a land from whence no tone returns to earth, 
no echo even of a sigh. 

Could this really be Sir Geoffrey's Susan, 
with whom he had ever associated the idea 
of strong health and almost superabundant 
vitality ? 

"Miss Drummond," he said — and those 
were the only words he could speak, as 
he tenderly took her wasted fingers in his 
own strong clasp — and looked mournfully 
at the woman he loved. 

" Won't you sit down," she asked, feebly 

Vol. iii. 56 



CHAPTER YIII. 



" HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO TOOTING ? 



Sl^T is somewhat liumiliating to consider 
^|§ how much sickness and how little sorrow 
affects our personal appearance. A bad bilious 
attack will pull a man down more than the 
death of his wife ; toothache keeps a sufferer 
on whom it has fastened its fangs wide awake, 
though heartache often fails to do so. 

All her mental anguish — and there could be 
no question but iliat since the previous sum- 
mer, the girl had passed through a season of 
intense and continuous agony — had failed to 
work the change in Susan Drummond a few 
weeks of serious illness sufficed to do, 

Mr. Gayre felt unutterably shocked when, 
ushered into the room where she sat in an 



''HAVE YOU EVEE BEEX TO TOOTiyOl" 193 

easy cliair propped up with pillows, he saw 
the havoc so short a time had wrought. 

Pale, wan, emaciated — a mere shadow of 
her former self — her eyes dull and weary, her 
listless hands thin and nerveless, her whole 
tired attitude that of one who had just 
returned worn out from so long a journey 
into the Dreadful Valley — it seemed almost 
as though she might better have gone on to 
the end of her awful pilgrimage, and entered 
a land from whence no tone returns to earth, 
no echo even of a sigh. 

Could this really be Sir Geoffrey's Susan, 
with whom he had ever associated the idea 
of strong health and almost superabundant 
vitality ? 

"Miss Drummond," he said — and those 
were the only words he could speak, as 
he tenderly took her wasted fingers in his 
own strong clasp — and looked mournfully 
at the woman he loved. 

" Won't you sit down," she asked, feebly 

Vol. iii. 56 



1 94 S U8AN DB UMMOXB. 

— the while she smiled a wan, sad smile, 
which smote him to the heart. 

" Why did you not send to some of your 
friends ? " he asked, " it was cruel to leave 
us in ignorance of where you were, in 
such uncertainty as to wliat could have 
become of you." 

"No one knew where to send," she an- 
swered. " I wrote as soon as I could." 

"I wanted to write to you," said Mr. 
Gayre, " but having no address — " 

"Yes— about what? Oliver?" and for 
the first time she hesitated a little over 
his name, and coloured painfully. 

"Yes, about Mr. Dane." 

"Is he— free?" 

"Not yet, but — " as she turned her head 
aside with a faint gesture of sorrowful dis- 
appointment, " pray do not look so wretched. 
Miss Drummond. I have every reason to 
hope his imprisonment will not continue 
much lonsrer." 



^*HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO TOOTING V 195 

" You are -■■ only saying that to comfort 
me. Perhaps he is dead. I have been ill 
such a time. Tell me the worst ! Oh ! if he 
is dead, I wish, I wish, I had died too." 

"He is not dead. Upon my word of 
honour, as far as I can know anvthins^ I 
have not actually seen, I believe him to 
be well again, or at the worst, very much 
better. A message, I understand, has also 
in some manner been conveyed to him, so 
that he knows friends are at work who 
soon hope to compass his release." 

" But friends have always been at work — 
and hitherto no good has resulted — and I 
don't think any good is likely to come from 
their efforts. Oh ! what shall I do — oh ! my 
darling what can I do? If only — only you 
were able to tell me," — and as she finished 
this last apostrophe, which was not in the 
least degree addressed to Mr. Gayre, great 
tears rolled down her cheeks— tears she was 
too weak to wipe away. 

56—2 



1 98 5 us AN BE UMMOND. 

almost at his wit's end. " The words are a 
mere form, and what can the form signify in 
such a case. You want to get Mr. Dane 
away from Portland ; do not quarrel witli 
the means likely to compass that object 
most speedily." 

" I will not — I forgot. Liberty for him on 
any terms — any,'' and she laid her head 
wearily back on the pillow, "yet I can't 
think Oliver would care for freedom as a 
favour, which ought to be given to him as a 
right. He must know nothing about it till 
lie is out again. Were I a man — " and she 
stopped and made a sign for Mr. Gayre to 
give her water. 

It was sweet to do even this much for her, 
but it was dreadful to feel how she shrank 
from contact with him as he held her up, 
and see the way her feeble hand shook, and 
hear the glass tinkle against her teetli, 
because he who once would have been denied 
no privilege of staunch and kindly friendship. 



^^HAVE YOr EVEB BEES TO TOOTING V 199 

had passed the border line and mentioned 
love. 

Putting a strong constraint on himself, 
as a father might have done he withdrew 
his arm, and took the water from her lips, 
and crossed the warm covering over her 
panting breast. Then he said, moved by 
what demon he could never afterwards 
imagine, 

"Were you a man you would feel like 
a man, and the man does not live who, after 
a few months, ay, days, of penal servitude, 
would not take his liberty on any 
terms." 

She did not answer him for a minute. 
Eestlessly she moved her averted head, as 
though struggling with some great emotion. 
Before turning her face again towards him, 
she said, in a feeble voice, yet with the 
greatest decision, 

" Had Oliver been the poor creature you 
think him, I should never have promised to 



1 98 8 US AN BB UMMOND. 

almost at his wit's end. " The words are a 
mere form, and what can the form signify in 
such a case. You want to get Mr. Dane 
away from Porthmd ; do not quarrel witli 
the means likely to compass that object 
most speedily." 

" I will not — I forgot. Liberty for him on 
any terms — any^'' and she laid her head 
wearily back on the pillow, "yet I can't 
think Oliver would care for freedom as a 
favour, which ought to be given to him as a 
right. He must know nothing about it till 
Jie is out again. Were I a man — " and she 
stopped and made a sign for Mr. Gayre to 
give her water. 

It was sweet to do even this much for her, 
Lut it was dreadful to feel how she shrank 
from contact with him as he held her up, 
and see the way her feeble hand shook, and 
hear the glass tinkle against her teetli, 
because he who once would have been denied 
no privilege of staunch and kindly friendship. 



"HAVE YOU EVEB BEES TO TOOTiyO'!' ir^ 

had passed the border line and mentioned 
love. 

Putting a strong constraint on himself, 
as a father might have done he withdrew 
his arm, and took the water from her lips, 
and crossed the warm covering over her 
panting breast. Then he said, moved by 
what demon he could never afterwards 
imagine, 

" Were you a man you would feel like 
a man, and the man does not live who, after 
a few months, ay, days, of penal servitude, 
would not take his liberty on any 
terms." 

She did not answer him for a minute. 
Eestlessly she moved her averted head, as 
thouojh strucrcrhnof with some «-reat emotion. 

O CO c c 

Before turning her face again towards him, 
she said, in a feeble voice, yet with the 
greatest decision, 

" Had Oliver been the poor creature you 
think him, I should never have promised to 



200 S US AX BR UMMOyn. 

be his wife. Though that is all gone and 
past, you must never say anything against 
him to me. For even in spite of all his 
faults — and he has faults — I shall think 
of him as the one perfect man I ever knew. 
A man could not be perfect who was more 
than human." 

"It is something," said Mr. Gayre, "to 
know how to avoid your displeasure. I 
only wish you would tell me how I could 
win your favour." 

"I am so tired," she moaned, "I wish 
you would go. No, I did not mean to say 
that — only I feel weary — weary — " 

" I am going," he answered. " I will 
not intrude longer, but before I go tell me 
what I can do to please you." 

She could not speak the words that 
trembled on her lips, but she looked at him 
with that piteous look of dumb entreaty we 
sometimes see in the eyes of an animal 
utterlv at our cruel mercv, then — 



''HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO TOOTING 1" 201 

"Be just to Oliver," and hid her face, 
whilst «rivinor him her hand. 

Yes, this was all he could ever expect 
from Susan Drummond. If his name never 
passed her lips, it would be " Oliver," 
" Oliver " " Ohver," in her heart for 
ever. 

Mr. Gayre had some time to wait before 
a train started for town, and he employed 
the interval in walking along the Eotting- 
dean Eoad till he found a point whence he 
could reach the shore. 

The tide was out far as tide at Brighton 
ever is, and while he stumbled back over 
the great stones and shingle he took a 
savage satisfaction in telling himself the 
mess he had made of a life that once 
promised a brilliant future. 

" First Love, then Money, then Love 
again. Accursed be both love and money," 
he muttered, regarding that horrible waste 
of long and unpicturesque sea whicli is seen 



2 02 S US AN DR UMMOND. 

to sucli advantage from the East End of 
Brighton. 

"When she marries me — and she will 
marry me, because such as she cannot 
give a promise and take it back — the same 
loyalty which has kept her true to a man 
under a heavy cloud will keep her faithful 
to her husband. I shall have to dread no 
rival save the never-to-be-forgotten and 
perfect — And yet, my God,'' he added, turn- 
ing quile unconsciously seaward, as though 
he felt somewhere — somewhere beyond the 
low horizon running in an expanse of dull 
grey water — the God in whom he believed — 
our God who sits above the water-clouds 
would hear the cry of one of His creatures, 
who in no great or grand fashion had 
drifted so hopelessly wrong — " I would 
rather try conclusions with any rival than 
contempt--any man than repugnance." 

" What have I done ? " he thousfht, walkino^ 
slowly along the beach, with head bowed and 



" HAVE YOU EVER BEEX TO TOOTING V 203 

liands clasped idly behind liis back, " tliat 
twice I should have loved women who had 
no look or smile for me. I — " and then, 
memory, takinir him gently by the hand, ofave 
Ilim back the shy glances, the faltering tones 
of those who in the days of the dead gone 
by, which could be his no more, would have 
been o-lad to take him for better, and 
equally ready to leave him if worse ever 
came. 

" It's all a mystery," he thought, as some 
time or other we have most of us thought, 
when trying to solve the great problem of 
lives mismatched, or worse than mismatched ; 
and then he went back to town, and in the 
stir and bustle of London forgot the lesson 
of which, by the mournful sea, he had 
caught a mere glimpse, but which there 
was nothing surer than that, in some form 
or other, he would have to learn to the 
last word ere he understood Xicholas Gayre. 

Once again time went on, the days flew 



204 S US Ay DB UMMOND. 

by; two or three afternoons a week, 
occasionally more frequently, the banker 
ran down to Brighton, but he made no 
progress with Susan. In fact, he made as 
little progress with her as his solicitors 
seemed to do with the Oliver Dane con- 
spiracy. 

At last there came an hour when Susan 
spoke plainly. She was getting strong again ; 
she could walk a short distance ; the far-away 
look he had come to know so well lay 
constantly folded within the deep brown 
depths of her tender eyes. The roses which 
go on blooming, even over the grave of 
human hope and happiness, had begun to 
tint her cheeks once more ; her figure gave 
promise of again being rounded. The 
Susan he once knew had gone like the last 
year's snow, but a fairer, nobler, more 
worthy Susan paced the Marine Parade, 
rejecting the supporting arm he would 
have wished her to lean on for life. 



'^HAVE YOU EVER BEEX TO TOOTING V 205 

Once again spring had come upon the 
earth — spring, early spring, that year filling 
the world with gladness — gay with flowers — 
bright with sunshine ! All through the 
land hawthorn was blooming, and birds were 
singing, and wild flowers decking the fields 
and river-banks and copses. 

The sea looked blue and gUttering, as it lay 
calm under the azure sky ; but Susan had 
no thought to spare for sea or sky, or white- 
winged vessel. Still Oliver Dane remained at 
Portland, breaking his heart or eating it out, 
according to whether despair or frenzy was 
at the moment in the ascendency. 

" I mean to leave Brighton, Mr. Gayre," she 
said, at length ; " and return to London." 

"You prefer London?" This was inter- 
rogative. 

"I think I may be able to do something 
for Oliver, there — and I know I am doing 
nothing here." 

Mr. Gayre bit his hp, but made no reply 



2o6 S US AX LR UMJ^OyJJ. 

They walked on a little further, and then 
Susan, pausing and looking over the parapet 
down at the shore beneath, went on, 

" And I have been also thinking that when 
I do go back to town it might be better if 
you did not call so frequently." 

" May I ask your reason ? " 

He knew his wisest policy would have been 
silence but the question rose to his lips and 
he had no power to restrain its utterance. 

" You know," she said, " our arrange- 
ment was conditional — " 

"Yes — but we mentioned no special time 
in which those conditions were to be ful- 
filled. It is not from any lack of endeavour 
on my part that — " 

•'lam quite willing to believe you," she 
interrupted, " it would be terrible to think, 
really, you had not done all in your 
poWer — nevertheless — " 

"It is a matter which cannot be 
hurried — " 



'• HA VE YO U EVER BEEN TO TOOTING ? " 207 

" I mean to try if I cannot hurry it ; 
and if through my exertions Oliver should 
be set at liberty — " 

" Our contract is to be considered at 
an end ; is that what you want to say ? " 

"I feel it had better be at an end. 
You see," she went on more firmly, now 
the first step had been taken, " if Oliver's 
release cannot be procured soon it may 
as well never be procured." 

"You think so?" 

" Yes I do — a fcAV months more and he 
will have been in prison for a year. You 
cannot tell me now, certainly, that at the 
end of another year he will be free. It 
may be all very well for us — standing 
here — able to go and come as we like, 
but for him — " and she broke with a little 
passionate cry for help to the God she 
sometimes thought — she could not avoid 
thinking — had deserted her. 

"If — " and her voice was calm and 



2o8 S US AN DE UMMOND. 

steady once more, " if, though innocent, I 
cannot prove his innocence — if there is no 
justice or mercy to be hoped for — we 
must bear our burden of sorrow as best 
we can. He has lived somehow through 
this awful time. If I can do nothing I 
must live, too, that I may meet him when 
he is once more free. I have made up 
my mind, Mr. Gayre. It was for OHver, 
I said I would marry you if you obtained 
his release. It is for Oliver I say that 
as you seem able to do nothing to help 
him, we must part. No woman cares less 
for the world's opinion than I, but I am 
bound to consider the man whose wife I 
mean some day to be. Though he has 
lost everything else, he shall find he has 
not lost me." 

Mr. Gayre did not answer immediately — 
he felt stunned. That she could arrive at 
such a decision was an idea which had never 
occurred to him. Something lay beneath 



"HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO TOOTING?" 209 

the surface. Could Mr. Fife — could any- 
one, have sent her that cutting from the 
Chelston paper. No, he scarcely thought 
that — but — 

" I presume you do not mean to sit 
down and abandon Mr. Dane to his fate 
without making some further attempt in his 
behalf." 

" No. I told you I thought I could help 
him, and I intend to try." 

" And may I not be permitted to assist ? " 

" Well, you see, Mr. Gayre, so far your 

assistance hitherto has been of but little 

use, and — " 

" I have asked such a price for it," he 

finished. 

" I would have been wilHng to pay that 
price for it ; I would have paid any price, 
almost, before my illness to set Oliver free, 
and ever since, till quite recently, no thought 
of refusing to act up to the letter of our 
bond occurred to me. But you have not 

Vol. ui. 57 



2IO S USAy DR UMMOND. 

fulfilled your part. Oliver is still in prison ; 
time goes on, and nothing is done on his 
behalf. His innocence is not proved ; even 
that free pardon of which you spoke is not 
obtained. Why should I remain in servitude 
when no good results to him. If nothing 
can be done by man, I must ask God to 
give Oliver and myself strength to bear 
our burden with submission, and live as 
cheaply as possible, so that when he comes 
out he ma)^ have a home to receive him, 
and money enough to take us both abroad 
should he wish to leave England." 

" In other words, Miss Drummond, you 
have thought of some scheme by which 
you may obtain his release irrespective of 
help from me." 

" Yes, I have thought of a plan, but 
I daresay it would never have occurred to 
me, had your help promised to be of the 
slightest use." 

"May one inquire what your plan is? 



" HA VE TO U EJ^R BEEX TO TOOTING ? " 211 

If it be a secret," lie added, seeing she 
hesitated, " pray do not feel yourself under 
any compulsion to tell me." 

" There is no reason Tvhy I should not tell 
you," Susan answered. '-Before I left 
London, if you remember, I received two 
anonymous letters." 

"Yes, I recollect." 

" Well, I think the writer meant kindly 
by Oliver and me." 

" Possibly." 

"And what has occurred to me to do 
is this : Advertise and entreat the writer 
of those letters to come and see me. I have 
thought the matter over, and it seems to 
me there is hope in the plan, even if only 
a forlorn hope." 

"There maybe." 

" You do not seem to think much good 
likely to result from my scheme ? " 

"My own have not hitherto borne so much 

fruit I dare venture to disparage yours." 

57—2 



214 s us Ay j)R UMMoyn. 

told himself it was impossible no means 
could be found to liberate an inno- 
cent man. His solicitors, though slow were 
sure, but if Susan took the helm she 
would do one of two things, either run 
her vessel on the rock, or else, by dint 
of sheer determination, 2fet the case brouc^ht 
so prominently before the public that Mr. 
Colvend, by the mere force of popular opinion, 
would be compelled to urge his daughter 
to confession. 

Further, he distrusted Mr. Fife. He could 
not understand the expression with which 
the ex-manager occasionally regarded him. 
He had no reason to suppose the man 
meant to play him false, yet that some 
scheme was maturing in his busy brain, he 
felt it impossible to doubt. He knew him 
to be needy, unscrupulous, desperate ; so 
far he had been living on the money Mr. 
Gayre paid him, but from time to time he 
threw out hints which implied his views of the 



" HA VE YO U EVER BEEX TO TOOTING / ' 215 

future were larcfe, and that it was not his 
intention to render those dreams reahties by 
dint of hard-work. 

" Had enough of it for dog's pay," lie 
explained ; " whatever halfpence might be 
going Dane got — I had the kicks for my 
share." 

Likely as not the moment Susan's adver- 
tisement appeared he would go to her, get 
monev from her, and tell her the whole 
story. 

" Xo, I'll stop that," thought the banker, 
looking askance at his companion, who, 
with eyes bent down, seemed trying to 
solve some knotty problem, " and you shall 
marry me yet. You will find you have not 
to deal with a boy, or even Oliver Dane," — 
havinor arrived at which conclusion he said 

o 

aloud, 

" Though I am not to write to you 
you will write to me, if you think I can be 
of any service — and you will not go away 



2i6 S USAN DR UMMOND. 

and hide yourself without leaving even an 
address where a letter might find you." 

"I did not do so before, intentionally," 
she answered. " You know 1 was so ill, so 
very ill. Just when you spoke I was 
thinking about the night when I came down 
here. It seems a long time ago, but perhaps 
you remember what a stormy day it was." 

Yes, Mr. Gayre did remember — he was 
never indeed likely to forget that journey 
from London, with the wind liowang round 
the carriage — and rain dashing itself at 
intervals against the glass. 

" It was a wretched day," he agreed, " and 
a anore wretched evening." 

" Well, do you know I could not rest in 
the lodgings, but came out here, where we 
are now, alone in the wild weather. I must 
have been mad to do such a thing — and am 
going to tell you the oddest fancy. As I 
stood here — just about here — I felt sure I 
saw you pass. A strange idea was it not? 



" HA VE YO U EVER BEEX TO TOOTISG V 217 

It was not half so strange and inexpli- 
cable as the tell-tale colour which rushed 
up into Mr. Gayre's face. He could not 
help it, he could not command his features. 

" Were you here — really ? " asked Susan, 
astonished. "I always thought it must 
have been a fancy of mine— but — " 

"It was no fancy," said Mr. Gayre, "I 
came down here on the Oliver Dane busi- 
ness. I hoped to have settled it that 
night." 

"And there was some one with you." 

The banker made a gesture of assent. 
He could not have spoken then to save 
his life. 

" And he said, ah ! " and Susan pulled 
herself up in the middle of her speech, as 
we sometimes start in the middle of a 
dream. 

They did not exchange another word 
till they reached the lodgings. Mr. Gayre, 
though uninvited to do so, followed the 



2 1 8 S US AX DB UMMOyn. 

girl in. Susan did not sit down, and so 
he could not. 

" I am to go, tlien," he said, " and never 
return unless I bring you good news — it 
is rather hard for me, is it not ? " 

" It is better," she murmured. 

" Yes, for you, perhaps. I wonder, though, 
if my absence will make you as much 
happier as you suppose — whether you 
won't miss me a little. Before we part, 
can't you find one kind word, Susan, to 
say to a man who loves you as he never 
loved any creature before." 

It was the first time he had called her 
by her Christian name, but she did not 
take any notice that he had done so. Lift- 
ing her eyes she looked him straight in the 
face, and said : 

" I will try and forgive you, Mr. Gayre." 

" Forgive me for what ? " he asked. 

" For hating Oliver, for seeking fee or 
reward in this matter, for doinor so little to 



" HA VE YO U EVER BEEN TO TOOTiyG ? " 219 

help liim in his strait. I know you would not 
have done anything if you could have helped. 
Had the cases been reversed, he would not 
have acted as you have done. He would have 
moved heaven and earth to compass your 
freedom ; he would not have tried to take your 
promised wife from you ; he would not have 
insisted on a woman marrying a man she could 
never love nor respect, as the price of her 
lover's freedom." 

" Good-bye," he said, holding out his liand, 
" do not let us part in anger ; you will be 
sorr}^ after I go, to think you could speak 
such cruel words. I asked for a blessing and 
you give me instead something akin to a 
curse. I wanted some pleasant memory 
to carry away with me into the world, and 
you impute the worst possible motives to 
me, whose only sin has been, loving you too 
well and faithfully. No, you need not tell 
me to go, I am going. Why are you so 
angry with me, that you will not give me 



220 SUSAX BVMMOND. 

even your hand ? What is the reason of this 
extraordinary charge ; why will you not 
speak? Well, I had better go, I suppose. 
Good-bye, Susan. Good-bye, my darling." 

" Good-bye," she answered, coldly. 

He took a few steps towards the door, then, 
moved by some sudden madness, turned, 
and before she could have the slightest idea 
of his purpose, had clasped her in his arms, 
and kissed her over and over again. 

She did not struggle, she did not speak a 
word, only when he released her, which he 
did as suddenly as he had caught her to him, 
she stood for a second, looking with eyes 
full of wonder and reproach, and then, still 
in silence, walked out of the room. 

Mr. Gayre was not perhaps in the 
happiest state of mind for seeking an inter- 
view with Mr. Fife, yet it was to that 
individual's lodgings he repaired immediately 
he arrived in London. 

Before he slept he felt he must know the 



"HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO TOOTING !" 221 

course Mr. Fife would adopt. If Susan 
advertised for the writer of those letters 
would he go to her, that was the question 
Mr. Gayre put plainly to Messrs. Col vend 
and Surlees' late manager. 

"/ sha'n't take a morsel of notice," 
declared Mr. Fife. " What's the reason 
of this new move ? She's not satisfied I 
suppose." 

" Very much the reverse." 

" What's the matter with her, Eome 
wasn't built in a day, or a night either, 
and it's not so easv to ^ret a man out of sfaol, 
as anybody might suppose till he tried the 
experiment. Besides, what does she want? 
Her young man running loose about the 
world, no doubt ! If she could only realise 
the fact, he is far safer where he is — and 
when all that is settled, why doesn't she 
marry you — I thought the matter was finally 
arranged." 

Mr. Gavre shook his head. "We will 



222 5 US AN DR UMMOND. 

not discuss Miss Drummond any further if 
you please," he remarked ; and on Mr. 
Fife saying, " all riglit," very cheerfully, 
the conversation would have ended, had not 
the ex-manager suddenly put this question : 

"By the by, Mr. Gayre, have you ever 
been to Tooting." 

" You asked me that same question some 
time ago," said the banker. "Is it a conun- 
drum, or have you any special reason for 
referring to the place ? " 

" Well, yes, I have. Look here, Mr. 
Gayre, should you like me to put 3^ou in the 
way of making a lot of money ? " 

" Money is always useful. Is there a gold- 
mine anywhere in the Tooting direction ? " 

" There is a quagmire, at any rate, where 
a fortune is in the way of being lost. When 
I used the word making, I ought to have 
said saving. I can prevent your being a 
good bit out of pocket, or I am much mis- 
taken." 



'^HAFE YOU EVER BEEN TO TO OTIS GV 223 

" Prevent my being out of pocket ! What 
do you mean ? " 

" Precisely what I say. I believe I can 
be of use to j'Ou, Mr. Gayre ; but I do not 
want a sum of money this time — I want a 
commission. Will you give me ten per cent. 
on any loss I am able to put you in the way 
of avoiding ? " 

" I have no objection to make such a 
promise, if I see that the loss without your 
interposition would have been certain." 

"Will you stick to that?" 

"Yes, subject to the condition mentioned." 

" The commission is too heavy. Look 
here, let us say five per cent certain, and I 
will leave the rest to your generosity — or 
rather to your justice, for I don't believe 
you are generous." 

"You ought to be honest, Mr. Fife, for 
you do not flatter." 

"You would not give me sixpence more 
if I did flatter you. Now, before we engage 



224 S US AN BE UMMOND. 

on this other matter, I should like to under- 
stand exactly how you and Miss Drummond 
stand. She wants to see me, and you do 
not want me to see her. What's up ? " 

"I have told you. She thinks she can 
find some means to obtain Dane's release." 

" And supposing she did — what then ? 0, 
you don't want to tell me that ; come, jon 
had better. There was once a lion, you 
know, and there was likewise a mouse. Two 
heads are better than one, remember, par- 
ticularly when the second head is mine. 
What was the nature of the arrangement 
you made with her ? " 

Mr Gayre stood silent. Even to this man, 
who had been his evil genius, he could not 
tell the nature of the bargain he had made. 

" Shall I guess for myself? " said Mr. Fife, 
with a nasty laugh. " The arrangement was 
conditional — speak if I am wrong — and 
the lady now wants to back out of it. I 
could have told you exactly how it would be. 



^'HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO TOOTING V 225 

They are all alike. Tlie very best of them 
can't bear to wait a minute for anything. 
If you are unable to hand the article they 
ask for across the counter they will have 
none of it. You ought to have married her 
first ; made her fulfil her part of the contract. 
She will never marry you now. If the truth 
were known, I daresay she is tired of Dane 
too — perhaps seen somebody else she fancies 
better than either of you." 

" No, that she has not ! " exclaimed Mr. 
Gayre, vehemently, finding voice at last. 
" I wish to heaven she had ! She speaks of 
nothing, cares for nothing, thinks of nothing, 
but Oliver Dane. I can see she is now 
gradually making up her mind to wait for 
him. She has done a rule-of-three sum. 
One year has nearly gone by — seven years 
will in the same way pass somehow for both 
of them. Once she relinquishes all hope oi 
getting the sentence reversed, she will put 
down the number of days before he can 

Vol iii. 53 



226 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

walk out a free man, and every night, after 
she says her prayers, strike one off the list." 

"Do you mean to say, then, matters are 
quite at an end between you ? I thought, 
from your wanting me to keep quiet, you 
had not quite played out all your own cards. 
Tell me the real state of the case. After 
to-night you will not be able to devote much 
time to Dane's affairs, and you will need my 
help there, too, or I am greatly mistaken." 

Though still not easy to talk of the 
matter, Mr. Gayre found it easier to say he 
had still three months, during the course of 
which, if Dane could be set free, Susan 
would marry him. 

" It's not long," observed Mr. Fife, rubbing 
his chin, when, after a considerable amount 
of hesitation on the banker's part, he found 
himself in possession of the girl's expressed 
determination, " but we must see what can 
be done. It is getting dusk now, Mr. Gayre; 
if you will kindly put on your hat, we will 



" HA VE YO U EVER BEEX TO TOOTiyG / " 227 

make the best of our way to Tooting. If 
you do not care to be seen travelling witli 
me — and, indeed, it is as well we should not 
seem acquainted — we can behave like total 
strangers on our journey." 

" I leave the whole matter to you," said 
the banker, carelessly; though, indeed, there 
was nothing he less desired than to be going 
about the world in the character of Mr. 
Fife's bosom friend. 

Long before they reached their destination 
it was quite dark, but by the aid of a lamp 
close at hand, Mr. Gayre was able to take in 
most of the details connected with a fine 
old house, to which his companion silently 
directed attention. 

It stood well back from the road, and 

was approached by a gravelled sweep, which 

enclosed a circular grass-plot. There were 

trees and shrubs of old growth about the 

place, and an air of stability and repose 

marked the house and its surroundings. 

53—2 



228 S US AX DB UMMOND. 

" You would not say that establishment 
could be kept up on a few hundreds a year," 
suggested Mr. Fife, as they stood together 
looking over one of the entrance gates. 
" There is a stable at the rear, and one 
very good horse in it. There is a coach- 
house and a natty brougham in it. There 
is a garden which requires two men to keep 
in order ; and there is a presiding deity in 
the shape of a lady, who cannot get through 
the day without being waited on by a 
butler, a maid, a housemaid, and a cook. 
Just a quiet, modest, steady-going, respec- 
table establishment ; no show, no ostentation ; 
nevertheless, one that must require some 
small amount of money to keep going. 
Don't you agree in my opinion ? " 

" Certainly," said Mr. Gayre, sorely 
puzzled. 

"The lady," proceeded Mr. Fife, "who 
resides in that house is supposed to be a 
widow, possessed of a fair fortune. Her 



"HAVE YOU EVER BEES TO TOOTIXG!" 229 

reputed name is Stanley. She is not very 
young — over thirty, at any rate — but she is 
handsome. You have taken in as many of 
the details of the place as is possible, unless 
we could get inside, which we can't. We 
must not stand here any longer. I want to 
call on a friend in the neighbourhood for 
five minutes; so if you will charter a cab 
and drive home to WimjDole Street, and give 
your servants orders to admit me when I 
appear, I will follow you as quickly as 
possible." 

" You intend to tell me something you 
think I ought to know ? " 

" Yes ; for Mrs. Stanley is not a A\idow, 
was never married, and has not a sixpence of 
her own." 

"Then who — " began Mr. Gayre. 

'• What I mean to tell you when I get to 
Wimpole Street is the name of the man who 
supplies the sinews of war necessary to carry 
on that campaign." 



CHAPTEE IX. 

AWAKENING. 



^irr^1l[^0EE than an liour elapsed after Mr. 
pl^hJ^ Gayre's return to Wimpole Street, 
before Eawlings, opening the hbrary door, 
announced Mr. Fife. Contrary to his even- 
ing custom, that gentleman was perfectly 
sober ; and as he deferentially took a seat 
opposite the banker, he looked once again a 
model clerk — a man who had not a thought, 
hope, wish, beyond the counting-house and 
his employer's interests. 

He was paler than usual, and seemed 
fagged, which fact he accounted for by 
remarking, 

"It's a long pull from Tooting here." 
" Surely you have not walked ! " said Mr. 
Gayre. 



AWAKENING. 251 

"0 no! I haven't walked; but take it 
any way you like it's a long pull." Then he 
sat silent for a while, contemplating the 
candlesticks as if he were appraising them. 

" I am going," he at last began, speaking 
slowly, and never removing his steady gaze 
from the candlesticks, " to tell you the name 
of the man who keeps up the establishment 
we were lookino- at this evenini^. He is 
called Nicholas Gayre." 

" Are you mad ? " asked the banker. " I 
never was at Tooting in my life before. I 
never knew there was such a house as that 
you took me to see, and I never heard there 
was such a person on earth as the Mrs. 
Stanley who, you say, lives there, till you 
mentioned it." 

" That may all be — indeed I know it all is. 
Nevertheless, it is you and no other who rent 
the house, pay the wages, settle with the 
tradespeople, and spend Heaven only knows 
how. much on madam — " 



232 SUSAX DBUMMOND. 

" You will perhaps presently kindly explain 
the enigma." 

" Presently — yes. I suppose " — and at 
this point Mr. Fife turned his eyes towards 
Mr. Gayre — " you will not dispute the fact 
that a business cannot stand still ? " 

" I should have thought it possible." 

" Should you ? Well, it can't ; nothing 
under heaven can stand still ; it must be 
always advancing or retrogressing. When 
3^our great-grandfather died he left a fine 
business behind him. When your grand- 
father died the business was a fine one still, 
but the diminishing process had begun. The 
world was going on, the business was being 
left behind. When your father died, com- 
paratively, Gay res' had dwindled to quite 
a small concern ; when you die — " 

*' Pray proceed ; do not allow any feeling 
of delicacy to stop you," urged the person 
whose end was so plainly alluded to. " When 
I die—" 



AWAKENING. 233 

"There will be no Gayres if you do not 
meantime either attend to your business 
yourself, or see that somebody else attends to 
your business for you." 

"May I ask the connection between all 
this and the house at Tooting ? " 

" Certainly ; I am getting on to that. 
" When your father died he left you, amongst 
other things, a safe business, if a small one." 

" You are quite accurate, Mr. Fife." 

" And a perfectly honest staff of clerks ? " 

" I believe so. Till quite recently I never 
had any reason to suspect the lionesty of any 
one in the establishment." 

" And in that case it was not you discovered 
there had been peculation ; it was your 
manager, Mr. Pengrove." 

"It was his duty to discover if anything of 
the sort was going on." 

" Exactly. And whose duty is it to dis- 
cover if anything is going wrong with Mr. 
Pengrove ? " 



234 S USAX BR UMMONB. 

" With PenoTove ! 0, that is too absurd ! " 

" Is it ? I suppose Mr. Pengrove's salary 
does not exceed eight hundred a year ; in 
fact, I know it does not." 

" I do not know where or how j^ou obtain 
your information, Mr. Fife, but in this instance 
it is correct." 

"While up to the year 1866 he had but 
five hundred. Daring the crisis of that 
summer he proved liimself so able and trust- 
worthy that your father advanced his salary 
to six hundred." 

" Again you are right." 

" Since that period you gave him another 
advance of a hundred ; and last year finding 
personal attention to business more and more 
irksome, and the society of your brother-in- 
law more and more fascinating, and your 
manager more and more trustworthy, you 
finally raised his honorarium — that is the 
word, is it not? — to eight hundred." 

"Thouorh of course delio^hted to find how 



AWAKENIXG. 235 

thoroughly acquainted with the details of my 
business you are, I must confess to some 
surprise as to how you have mastered 
them." 

" I could tell you that, too ; but it is a 
matter quite beside the question, and would 
only detain us from the point we have to 
consider. Mr. Pengrove, then, till about the 
end of the year 1871, had nothing except 
six hundred a year on w^iich to support a 
wife, educate his children, and what is called 
" maintain his position." 

" Mrs. Pengrove was an heiress." 

" Heiress to what ? Xo money, certainly. 
To ill-health, I admit, and a tendency not 
uncommon amongst ladies, of rendering home 
somewhat unpleasant to her husband.'' 

" Do you know for a fact she did not bring 
Mr. Pengrove a fortune ? " 

" For a fact. Mrs. Peno-rove was a Miss 
Garley, the daughter of a gentleman out at 
Homerton, who amused himself by preaching 



236 S US AN DE UMMOND. 

thunder and lightning sermons on Sunday in 
a little whitewashed barn, and supported a 
large family by selling exceedingly bad 
grocery through the week. Miss Garley had 
nothing but her face, and that soon faded ; 
she looks now like a very poor portrait in 
water-colours which has hung for a long time 
on an exceedingly damp wall. Mr. Pen- 
grove I presume, told you his wife had a 
fortune ? " 

"Merely incidentally. Whether she had 
or not was, of course, no business of mine." 

" 0, of course not ; no more jovj: business 
than whether Jane, your housemaid, meets 
her young man round the corner." 

" Mr. Fife, will you kindly say in so many 
words how that house at Tooting concerns 

me?" 

"With the greatest pleasure, Mr. Pengrove 

is Mrs. Stanley's ' trustee.' Mr. Pengrove is 
constantly at the house on business ; and 
one of these fine days he will marry the 



AWAKENING. 237 

lady, and take up liis abode at Tooting 
altogether." 

"Bless my soul, the man can't marry 
her! He has orot a wife already, as you are 
well aware." 

" Yes ; but that wife can't live long. She 
has an incurable disease. It is only for 
' contrariness ' she has not died long ago ; 
and when she does die, you shall see what 
you shall see if you fail to put a stop to 
Mr. Pengrove's little game at once." 

" And what is his little game ? " 

" That is for you to find out. I have 
sketched an outline ; you surely can fill in 
the details. I have no exact means of 
telling how much you will find yourself 
to the bad ; but I should imagine the 
deficiency will turn out to be not less than 
a hundred thousand pounds." 

"What?" said Mr. Gayre ; and he said 
no more, for the simple reason that he 
could not. 



23S SI SAN DBUMMOXB. 

" And if you don t want to be utterly 
ruined," went on Mr. Fife coolly, "you 
will put your own shoulder to the wheel, 
and try to get your cart out of the rut." 

" But how ? " asked Mr. Gayre, at length 
finding voice — " how could any man rob 
me to such an extent?" 

" I'm sure I cannot tell ; you know the 
position of your own bank better, I should 
imagine, than anybody else, except ^^our 
trusty friend and servant, Mr. Pengrove. 
If you have not money in your strong- 
room, you have, I suppose, money's worth. 
Where are yon going ? No, for Heaven's 
sake, Mr. Gayre, don't make au}^ disturb- 
ance to-night. If you go to Pengrove's 
house, he'll give you the slip safe as yon 
are alive. Let it be till to-morrow morn- 
ing. Get to the bank early — he's always 
there early ; have him into your private 
office, and don't let him leave it till you 
know where every title-deed and bond and 



AWJKEyiXG. 239 

mortgaofe is you may ere long be called 
uj^on to make good," 

" I will go down to tlie bank now, and 
examine the securities. If I find one missing, 
I sliall give him in charge to-night." 

" Do ; and / give you not longer than 
eight-and-forty hours to repent not taking 
my advice. Why, your bank is not a strong 
one — you know that ; and if at a day's 
notice the deposits are withdrawn and all 
securities required, you may as well put 
up your shutters." 

" I would rather do that than — " 

" But whv should you do anvthincr of 
the kind? You must make up your mind 
to lose a lot of money, but you need not 
lose all. If you must have revenge, well 
and good ; but first count the cost. It's 
all very well to cut off your nose to spite 
your chin ; but after a while a man must 
begin to miss his nose. If you only keep 
a quiet tongue in your head, you may pull 



240 SUSAN BR UMMOXD. 

through yet ; if you don't the bank of 
England couldn't save you so far as to 
enable you to get a living out of Gayres' 
in the future." 

Far into the night Mr. Gayre and Mr. 
Fife sat talking. According to custom, at 
a certain early hour the female servants 
repaired to bed, leaving Eawhngs on guard 
below. He was the most discreet and faith- 
ful of butlers ; yet even he could not help 
marvelling what his master could find to 
say to that low impudent fellow Fife. 

" He might just as well ask me into the 
library, and order up a devilled bone and 
some punch for my supper, as have him 
there," grumbled the man to himself; 
and then Mr. Gayre's bell tingled, and 
Eawlings, quiet and decorous, went up- 
stairs and waited just inside the door to 
hear what his master wanted. 

" Shut that door," said Mr. Gayre, " and 
come in." 



AWAKEMNG. 241 

Eawlings obeyed. 

"I am afraid something is wrong in 
Lombard Street," began liis master. 

" Truth is," interposed Mr. Fife, fortified 
by hot brandy- and-water, " I know there is a 
great deal wrong in Lombard Street, have 
just come round to give your master a liint 
and—" 

"Allow me for a moment, please, Mr. Fife. 
I shall want your help to-morrow, Eawlings ; 
therefore please see breakfast is ready at 
eight, and that you are at liberty to leave 
for the City at half-past. I will give you 
full directions in the morning." 

" Thank you, Colonel," and the man could 
scarcely refrain from the old military salute, 
so delighted was he to be taken into con- 
fidence, so relieved to find this unaccountable 
intimacy with Mr. Fife indicated nothing 
worse than something going wrong in Lom- 
bard Street. "Though, indeed," thought 
Eawlings, " that might mean a good deal 

Vol. iii. 59 



242 SUSAX DBUMMOM). 

to some of us. I wonder if the Colonel 
would go back into the army ? I don't 
know how I should take to that myself 
after the time I've had of it here." 

" Do you think you can trust him ? " 
asked Mr. Fife, as Eawling left the room. 
" I would trust him with my life," 
answered Mr. Gayre. 

" Ah, but this is not a question of life ; 
it is one of money," said Mr. Fife, with a 
sarcasm that would not have disgraced the 
banker himself. 

Late though it was before Mr. Gayre went 
to bed, he never closed his eyes. He had 
slept after the loss of his self-esteem, but 
he could not sleep now the loss of money 
was in question. 

At last he realised all the bank had done 
for him ; how little he had done for the 
bank. What Mr. Fife said was painfully 
true. As each succeeding Gayre for gene- 
rations had departed, he left in proportion 



AWAKEyjXG. 243 

to the times, less money behind him. It 
was pretty nearly the old story of the single 
talent repeated in Lombard Street. Safety 
the Gayres had thought of to the exclusion 
of progress ; and now, as a fitting sequel, 
the last of the name seemed likely to be 
not merely shoved up in a corner, but left, 
in addition, well-nigh destitute. 

"And you have no one to thank but 
yourself,'* Mr. Fife had most truly observed. 
" If a man professes to be in business, he 
should attend to his business. Your father 
did not ask you to give up the army Imerely 
that you might drop into the bank for an 
hour a day. He could have found a dummy 
to do everything you latterly professed to 
do — better." 

It was of such utterances as these, and 
of how certainly he had left things to " take 
their chance," Mr. Gayre thought as he 
tossed restlessly from side to side. 

Even then Euin might be keeping watch 



59-2 



244 S US AN BR UMMOND. 

in Lombard Street, though the outer world 
were still in ignorance of her presence. 
Kuin ! worse than ruin ! Value lay, or was 
supposed to lie, in the strong-room at 
Gayres' to a larger amount than the whole 
of the money he owned in the world would 
cover. 

" Nothing had been advanced upon those 
deeds and mortgages and bonds, and plate 
and jewels ; but " — and at this point Mr. 
Gayre started up with the intention of 
fijoinor there and then to Lombard Street to 
learn the worst — " if these thinofs were not 
forthcoming, how should he meet man or 
woman who had confided them to his 
keeping ? " The Act of God was one thing, 
the carelessness of man another ; and Mr. 
Gayre knew, since he relinquished the idea 
of making Gayres' a big power in the City, 
that he had been criminally careless both 
of his own estate and the goods of other 
people. 



AWAKEyiXG. 245 

" During this last year particulaiiy," con- 
science liiuted, in no uncertain tones, " each 
day you have been getting worse and worse ; 
each hour you have been leaving more and 
more to subordinates." 

" A true bill," he murmured. " I have 
not done any real good since I saw Will 
Arbery riding Squire Temperley's hunter in 
the Park. AVould to Heaven I had selected 
any other route that morning, never stopped 
to speak to Sudlow, never set eyes on my 
niece, never watched young Arbery managing 
that horse, never seen Susan Drimimond ! 
Yes," he added vehemently, " I would to God 
Susan Drummond had never crossed my 
path ! " 

It was not the first time he had expressed 
that wish ; but even when the powers of 
good and evil were waging war within him, 
he had never felt it more fervently. To be 
not only lowered in his own esteem, but to 
be poor as well, seemed more than he could 



246 S US AX BR UMMOND. 

bear. Hitherto, if he gained Susan he 
accounted the world well lost ; but when it 
came to the test, when he was called upon to 
lose much the world accounts of value, Mr. 
Gayre could not be quite so certain. 

Suppose at that moment Euin was actually 
in the cellars of Gayres', crouching beside 
The Tortoise, removed from its proud position 
by his grandfather, what could Susan avail 
him ? She did not love him rich ; was it in 
the least degree likely she would care more for 
him when poor ? How could he humble himself 
to tell her that even riches had refused to 
stop with him ; that his boasted wealth was 
gone, and his social position also ? She 
would say, perhaps, they would have to 
make the best of matters ; say it with that 
look of half contempt and whole dislike he 
had learned to know so well. He never 
could make her care for him : while the sun 
set and the moon rose, while grass grew and 
water flowed, he never, let him do what he 



AWAKENING. 247 

would, might win a glance of love or a smile 
of welcome from the woman he had treated 
as a conqueror might a slave. 

Over and over and over again, through the 
watches of that drearv ni^^ht, he conned the 
words of that song so many of us, under like 
circumstances, have set to doleful music of 
our own making, the burden of which is 
Loss, and the refrain Despair. 

He tried to sleep, but he could not. He 
strove to cheat himself into the belief Mr. 
Fife had spoken untruly, but even that poor 
reed broke as he touched it. Mr. Fife's way 
of talking was not that of a man who desired 
to delude or conciliate. Quite the contrary 
— Mr. Fife was terribly plain. He said Mr. 
Pengrove had stolen, was stealing, would 
steal ; that Mr. Gay re had no more right to 
complain of having been robbed than a 
shopkeeper who puts his goods out on 
the pavement for any thief to walk oflf 
with. 



248 S US AN BR UMMOND. 

" Confidence," he went on, " may be a very 
fine thing in theory, but your customers, I 
fancy, would think caution a vast deal better 
in business. You should have kept your 
keys yourself, Mr. Gayre, and seen the locks 
were not tampered with." 

Long before it was time to go to Lombard 
Street Mr. Gayre had finished breakfast. 

Having agreed to follow Mr. Fife's advice 
he could not, as his inclination prompted, 
rush down into the City and go through 
the contents of Gayres' strong-room without 
another moment's delay. 

" If once the affair gets wind you may 
suspend payment," Mr. Fife told him. '" Fol- 
low my counsel, and, unless things are in a 
very much worse state than I think they 
have yet had time to get into, you may, with 
hard work and judicious management, pull 
through. But remember, you will have to 
work hard, and bring all your common sense 
to bear on the matter. Half the bankrupts 



AWAKENIXG. 249 

in London smash up because the moment 
some bother comes they lose their heads. I 
am talking of the honest men. Swindlers 
rarely make a mistake of that sort." 

At length the moment arrived when he 
might make a move, and, like a greyhound 
let out of leash, Mr. Gayre started for the 
City. 

It was the first time in his experience he 
had ever wished to go there ; and even 
in the midst of his anxiety he could but 
smile to consider the reason. " I have 
let all these years slip by," he thought, " and 
now in a moment the fear of poverty brings 
me to my feet, as the hope of gain never 
could have done." 

In Lombard Street he met Mr. Fife, and 
turned with him for a moment into Change 
Alley. 

" Think you are in command again, 
Colonel," said the ex-manager very earnestly. 
" It needs as much courage to face a difficulty 



250 S US AN BE UMMOND. 

like this as to stand fire. I'll be at hand 
when you want me." 

The interview between Mr. Gayre and his 
manager was not long, but it sufficed to 
change Mr. Pengrove's whole appearance. 
Wlien he entered the private room he looked 
a smug, prosperous respectable man of 
business ; when he came out he resembled 
nothino' so much as a thrashed hound, 
longing for a quiet corner in which to lay its 
aching bones. 

But there was to be no quiet corner that 
day. He had to go on with his work just as 
if detection were still in the far distance. He 
was obliged to assist in checking the securities; 
he had to compel his trembling lips to speak 
and try to steady his hands, and strive to 
seem unconscious that even when, for ap- 
pearance' sake, he went out at one o'clock 
for his accustomed chop, he was never lost 
sight of for a moment. 

During the whole of that busy day Mr. 



AWAKENIXG. 251 

Gayre's thoughts did not once stray to Susan 
Drummond. For the first time since their 
ill-starred meeting, he forgot the fact of her 
existence. The hours were so full of excite- 
ment and anxiety, Love found himself out of 
court ; and when, late at night, the banker 
returned to Wimpole Street, lie saw, almost 
with indifference, a letter addressed in a hand- 
writing which four-and-twenty hours pre- 
viously would have stirred his every 
pulse. 

The contents were merely to the effect that 
Susan had returned to her former lodofinors. 
The note began " Sir " and ended " yours 
truly." 

"I shall have to think about all this later 
on," he considered, feeling in very truth he 
was unequal at that moment to think of any 
subject save whether it would be possible to 
save his credit. 

" You must Qet monev, and that immedi- 
ately," had been Mr. Fife's last words before 



252 SUSAN DR UMMOND. 

he left the bank, where he stopped for hours 
after every one else — even Mr. Pengrove — 
was gone ; and it was how to get money 
without exciting wonder or arousing sus- 
picion which occupied Mr. Gayre's mind as 
he walked ceaselessly up and down his 
dining-room. 

Able to come to no conclusion, exhausted 
botli in mind and body, feeling his tired 
brain at last refuse to answer to his call, he 
went wearily up-stairs to bed, where, 
perfectly certain he should not close his eyes 
all night, he fell into a deep and peaceful 
slumber. 

The sun was streaming into his room, 
when he awoke with a start, and the words 
some one had spoken to him in a dream still 
ringing in his ears. 

"Mrs. Jubbins will lend you the money 
— go to her." 

Yes, Mrs. Jubbins would lend him the 
money, but could he go to her ? 



AWAKEXIXG. 253 

Mr. Gayre tbouglit not, and the close of 
another anxious day found hhn in the same 
mind. 

"Have you decided on the best way of 
quietly raising enough money ? " Mr. Fife 
asked, when once again they parted at the 
bank. "There is no time to lose." 

Mr. Gayre knew that. Xevertheless, he 
felt he could not possibly ask for help from 
Mrs. Jubbins. 

" If your bank," said Mr. Fife, who really 
was working heart and soul in the matter, 
" had been like any other bank, there would 
be no trouble about the matter ; but no 
legitimate reason exists why Gayres should 
be short of cash. You don't discount, you 
don't advance ; you run no risks ; you have 
done nothing like anybody else ; and the 
consequence is, now you need to borrow, 
everybody will imagine there is something 
wrong. Yet money must be got till you 
are able to turn yourself round. Have you 



254 SUSAN BR UMMOyD. 

no friend who could and would help you at 
this pinch ? " 

Mr. Gayre answered that he had friends, 
but he did not like to ask them. 

"Perhaps you would rather go into the 
Gazette ? " suggested Mr. Fife. " I foresee 
that will be the end of the matter if you 
delay much longer ; and it would be a 
thousand pities. Lord, if you only had 
a few capable men about you, what might 
not be made of this business even now ! 
Why don't you go to your solicitors ? " 

Xo, Mr. Gayre thought, he would not go 
to his solicitors then, at any rate. 

"There is one person I feel sure would 
lend me all I want," he, at last explained, 
with a little natural hesitation. 

" Then for Heaven's sake do not lose a 
minute in seeing him ! " cried Mr. Fife. 
" Any day or any hour some one of these 
things may be required, and the worst of 
most of them is that no money could replace 
them." 



AWAKEMSG. 255 

" That is too true, unfortunately," answered 
Mr. Gay re. " I will go now, before I change 
my purpose." 

"That is right," said Mr. Fife I "and I 
hope from my soul you may be successful." 





CHAPTER X. 

LUCKY AT CARDS, ETC. 

^f^RS. JUBBIXS was not in her pleasant 
'^ drawing-room when Mr. Gayre 
arrived at ' the Warren. After a minute 
or two spent at onej of the windows idly- 
trying to catch the only peep of the Nock- 
holt Beeches obtainable from Lady Merio- 
neth's dower house, the while every instinct 
lie possessed was revolting from the errand 
which had brought him down, Hoskins 
appeared, to say liis mistress was in the 
wilderness — should he send for her — or 
would Mr. Gayre prefer to go to Mrs. 
Jubbins there. Mr. Gayre preferred the 
latter suggestion, and, making his way into 
the wilderness by a walk which led straight 



LUCKY AT CARDS, ETC. 257 

from the trim terrace into a grassy hollow, 
where the trees irrew so thick thev found it 
a hard strucff^le for existence — where bracken 
and grass and blackberry runners, and 
hemlock and srorse and wild flowers all 
mingled in rank and picturesque luxuriance 
— soon found, by the noise of voices, he must 
ascend to a higher part of the grounds, left 
almost as much to the gardening operations 
of nature as the dell he had plunged 
into. 

It was with a little cry of genuine pleasure 
and surprise that Mrs. Jubbins, seated on a 
mossy bank and surrounded by some of 
her younger children, welcomed his arrivaL 

" You are such a stranger," she began^ 
" but I won't waste a moment in scoldincr 
YOU now YOU have come. I am so grlad to 
see you again," and Mrs. Jubbins really 
looked delighted as she stood, handsome, 
prosperous, happy, and middle-aged, with 
the sunbeams glistening upon her luxuriant 

Vol. iii. 60 



258 S US AX Dli UMMOSB. 

liair, her well-developed figure, and lier 
rich, yet quiet dress. 

" You have not lunched ? " was almost her 
first question. 

'" Yes, thank you, I have." 

" Then what should you hke best to do, 
go in doors, or stop out here, and enjoy this 
perfect afternoon ? " 

Mr. Gayre, deciding to enjoy the perfect 
afternoon, found a seat for himself on a 
felled tree, and took off his hat with a view, 
as Mrs. Jubbins decided, of making himself 
quite at home. 

Never perhaps on the face of this earth 
did man feel himself less at home, but he 
was in for tlie matter and did not intend his 
courage should fail him at the last moment. 

"Where have you been all this time," 
asked the widow, " out of town ? " 

" No, not out of town except for a day, 
now and then ; I have been very fully 
occupied." 



LUCKY AT CARDS, ETC. 259 

" And how is your niece ? " 

" Very well, I believe — I have not seen 
her for some time." 

"When is she to be married?" 

" I really do not know — I have not seen 
Sir Geoffrey either very lately. Have you?" 

" Xot since Easter. He does not come 
here now — " 

"Oh!"— and ^Ir. Gayre looked at Mrs. 
Jubbins, and Mrs. Jubbins looked at Mr. 
Gayre. 

" And I am so sorry," added the widow, 
" for I thought him a most delightful person, 
so amusincr — and oric^inal — " 

" Happily," interpolated Mr. Gayre — 

"But he chose to take offence, and of 
course I could not beg and entreat of him to 
come here on a merely friendly footing." 

" It was much safer not," said Sir Geoffrey's 
brother-in-law. 

" And how is that dear Miss Drummond ? " 

"She is getting better." 

60—2 



26o 5 US AX DR UMMOXn. 

"Still at Brio'hton?" 

"She was the other day," answered Mr. 
Gayre, who had his own reasons for not 
mentioning the fact that Susan was in 
London. 

" What about tliat wretched man, Dane ? " 

" I trust he will be at liberty ere long." 

" Dear me, I hope not." 

" Wliy do you hope not, Mrs. Jubbins ? " 

" Because that poor girl will marry him, 
and there can be nothing but misery for her 
with so dreadful a creature." 

"There are persons who believe he was 
wrongly convicted." 

" That is too shocking — of course, if he 
had been innocent he would not have been 
found guilty." 

" I do not think that exactly follows." 

" Oh ! but it does, you may be quite 
certain. I was talking to Deputy Pettell 
about the matter only yesterday, and he 
assured me there could be no possible 



LUCKY AT CARDS, ETC. 261 

doubt upon the subject. Of course lie must 
know, having so much to do with the Lord 
Mayor, and being constantly at the Mansion 
House." 

'' I should not dream of pitting my poor 
opinion against that of Deputy Pettell." 

" Xow you must not be naughty, Mr. 
Gayre. I can't allow it. I really can't. 
Mr. Deputy is a particular friend of mine, 
and he is not to be laughed at." 

''I was not laughing at him, I assure you. 
Nothing could possibly be further from my 
mind than lau^'hter of anv sort." 

" And I am sure I do not feel inclined to 
laugh when I think of that sweet Miss 
Drummond beinof married to a convict." 

" But, my dear Mrs. Jubbins," expostulated 
Mr. Gayre, " you signed the petition for that 
convict's release." 

" So I did, but I never thought anything 
would come of it." 

Mr. Gayre laughed — though in no mirthful 



262 >S r*S.4.Y Dli UMMOyj). 

mood Mrs. Jubbins' answer tickled his 
fancy. 

" You are always making fun of us poor 
women," said the widow. " It is really the 
case, though ; I would not have put my name 
to anything of the sort if I had thought 
there was the least chance of Mr. Dane 
being released. I did so hope that poor Miss 
Drummond would have foro-otten him, and 
married somebody else. I knew Sir Geoffrey 
hoped the same thing — indeed, he more than 
once implied he knew a gentleman who was 
very fond of her, and would make her a 
most excellent husband." 

" He did not mean himself, I suppose," 
suggested Mr. Gayre. 

" Oh ! Mr. Gayre, how can you ? — Why, 
she is a mere child in comparison with him, 
and besides — " 

" Sir Geoffrey was thinking of some one 
else ! " finished the banker, with a dubious 
smile. 



LUCKY AT CABUS, ETC. 263 

" I did not mean to imply that," said Mrs. 
Jubbins, laying a sprig of moss on the back 
of one white hand, and smoothing it with 
the other. "It was of Miss Drummond. 
though, we were talking. If you have any 
influence over her — and of course I know 
how r/reat your influence is over every 
person with whom you come in contact — 
do persuade her to forget that wicked young 
man." 

" It is an unfortunate fact," answered Mr. 
Gayre, " that I have not the smallest in- 
fluence over Miss Drummond. I do not think 
an angel could turn her out of any road 
she thought would lead to Oliver Dane." 

" I am afraid that is too true. The very 
last time I saw her she told me she should 
prefer water and dry bread with him, to 
anything in the way of luxury wealth could 
furnish without him." 

"She will, I fancy, shortly be able to 
indulge her preferences." 



264 S USjy DB UMMOXD. 

" I do not like to speak liardly about her, 
but it seems to me infatuation. If we did 
not know those old spells and things had 
long been done away with, I should almost 
say she must be under some possession or 
fascination. 

"So she is — she is in /t^yc?," returned Mr. 
Gayre. 

" But there ought to be some sort of 
reason in love." 

''There ought, but there rarely is," and 
Mr. Gayre sighed involuntarily, and looked 
down towards the hollow where Mrs. Jubbins' 
young fry, tired of the improving conversa- 
tion between their elders, had betaken them- 
selves. He and the widow were alone. 
Sunbeams were glistening through the leaves 
— the wind was gently stirring the boughs, 
a great peace reigned all around ; if he was 
ever to say what he had come to say he 
felt lie ought not to let this opportunity slip. 
Mrs. Jubbins was looking at him a little 



LUCKY AT CARDS, ETC. 265 

perplexed. He raised his head and looked 
at her, then plunged into the matter, at 
that moment nearest to his heart. 

" I have come down to-day," he began, 
" to ask you a favour — a great favour." 

'• Whatever the favour may be it is 
granted," she said, quickly. 

"Xo," he answered, "you must not bind 
yourself in any way till you have heard 
what it is." 

The ice was broken, what he had to say 
seemed easier with every word. If there 
were one thing Mrs. Jubbins understood 
better than another, that thing was business. 
She liked sentimental books, she had a fancy 
for romantic and melancholy poetry, she 
adored rank, and would have done aught a 
woman might to get rid of that dreadful 
name she had taken for better for worse in 
St. Pancras Church, but when all was said 
and done her one talent was for business. 
Even while Mr. Gayre continued speaking 



266 SUSAN BE UMMOSn. 

she grasped the position, she saw exactly 
where the difficuUy lay, and how it was 
to be surmounted ; no need of tedious expla- 
nations or wearisome repetitions with her. 
Mr. Gayre had to listen to no weak expres- 
sions of wonder, or feminine ejaculations 
concerning the sinfulness of Mr. Pengrove. 
In fancy, it is true, Mrs. Jubbins saw Gayres' 
tottering to its foundations, and herself as 
guardian angel, restoring the stability of 
the bank with her money bags ; but, refrain- 
ing from all gush or effusion, she simply 
said, 

" You can have as much as you want. 
Every j^enny I own, if necessary. I know 
the money which I feel I only hold in trust 
for my children will be safe with you. I am 
very grateful to you for coming to me." 

There is nothino' like doing: thincrs 
thoroughly. Mr. Gayre felt almost stunned 
by such impulsive generosity, such un- 
questioning confidence. He forgot the 



LUCKY AT CARDS, ETC. 267 

ideas which annoyed and the mannerisms 
that amused him in Mrs. Jubbins, and re- 
membered only the warm-hearted woman 
who had never once ceased in her attacli- 
ment and friendship for himself. He liad not 
treated lier well, he thought ; lie had not done 
justice to the nature his father always de- 
clared he could not sufficiently extol. 

Yes, Eliza Jubbins was a thoroui^dilv o-ood 
creature. To eyes wearied with looking 
at possible ruin, she seemed positively 
beautiful, seated on that mossy bank, tearful 
yet smiling — so glad, so very, very glad he 
had come to her. 

" Thank you for your trust in me," he said. 
" I will not abuse it." 

" Xo need to tell me that," she answered, 
" the very idea I '' 

It was a delicious afternoon. To Mr. 
Gayre's fancy, Heaven seemed to have come 
down to earth on a brief visit. The utter 
peace of Xature in her milder moods had 



268 SUSAN DRUMMOXD. 

never before appealed so strongly to his sonl. 
There was rest in every sight that met his 
eyes, in each sound that came wafted to his 
ear. As in a dream he looked at dancing 
leaves and velvety moss and opening fronds, 
a!) the rich Ijrown of tlie old ferns that still 
littered the ground, at the pine cones and the 
last autumn's acorns and oak apples boun- 
tifully strewing the ground, at the tiny wild 
flowers blooming amongst the short grass, 
almost too minute for individual notice yet 
spangling the sod witli such beauty as the art 
of man might strive in vain to equal. There 
was a solemn hush about the place also to 
one accustomed to the din of London — a 
hush broken only by some sound of country 
life ; near at hand a thrush was sinfrinfr lonor 
gushes and snatches of song ; down in the 
hollow the young folks were laughing and 
playing ; from further off, softened by dis- 
tance, came the gruff shout of a waggoner to 
his horses. The air was full of the thousand 



LUCKY AT CARDS, ETC. 269 

nameless yet subtly exquisite scents of spring. 
As a man just rescued from drowning might 
survey with languid rapture the aspect of 
some fair land of safety to which he had been 
borne, so Mr. Gayre looked at the sylvan 
scene surrounding him, listened to the 
twittering of birds, the rustling of leaves, 
the occasional scurry of a rabbit, inhaled the 
balmy air and all unconsciously drank in the 
health-giving odours of resinous pines. 

"How pleasant it is here," he said, "what a 
delicious spot to rest in." 

" Yes, it is very nice," agreed Mrs. Jubbins, 
" but I do wish sometimes it was nearer town. 
People will not come so far, and really, after 
London, one cannot help finding the country 
dull." 

" I daresay any one living in it always 
might find it dull, but to me this spot seems 
perfect." 

"You would tire of it if you were here 
always," declared Mrs. Jubbins, with decision. 



270 SUSAX DBUMMOXI). 

" I do not mean The Warren is not very 
pretty and all that, but, dear me — I so often 
wisli it could be transported bodily eight 
miles nearer the Bank. I should not so much 
mind if there were any pleasant neighbours 
who would drop in of an afternoon or 
evening in a pleasant way, but when one has 
to get one's society as well as many other 
things, down by train, the country becomes a 
trial." 

" Have you not society in the neighbour- 
hood, then? " 

"There is plenty of society if it would be 
sociable, but it won't. To be anybody here 
it is necessary to be enormously rich. In 
Brunswick Square I used to think 1 was a 
person of some consequence, but amongst all 
the great people about me I assure you I feel 
very small indeed." 

Mr. Gayre turned an interested glance 
upon the lady. Hitherto it had seemed to 
him anvone with such an income as was 



LUCKY AT CABDS. ETC. 271 

possessed by Mrs. Jubbins might liave secured 
a fair social position. Beyond a certain point 
it liad not before occurred to him money was 
essential to social standing. 

He had heard of such things as a pair not 
associating with a single brougham, of 
butlers refusing situations where one foot- 
man at least was not kept, but his own path 
havino' led him out of the way of these nice 
distinctions of modern rank, he had always 
felt inclined to believe stories of the kind 
must be the invention of some poor wretch in 
a garret, striving to earn an honest penny by 
gibbeting respectable people, of whose habits 
and thoughts and modes of proceeding he 
knew literally nothing. 

" And at times I really find it very dull," 
went on ]\Irs. Jubbins, who having got her 
father-confessor in an agreeable mood seemed 
determined to improve her opportunity. 
•' Of course there are my children, but they 
have their pursuits, and indeed, occasionally 



272 SUSAN I)RUM^WXD. 

even for their sakes, I lon^r for sometliinof 
different in the ^vay of friends — greater 
variety. Of course the people my dear 
husband knew and esteemed always must be 
friends of mine, but the world has gone on, 
and since I came down here I see clearly 
that what seemed very good society to him 
and your kind father would not be thought 
very much of now." 

" It was a very safe sort of society, at all 
events," suggested Mr. Gay re. 

" I know that ; but look at the sons and 
daughters of some of the families your 
father was most intimate with. They are 
enormously rich, they have had advantages 
sucli as I never thought of, they can talk all 
sorts of languages, they can play and sing 
and paint like professionals ; they mix amongst 
the aristocracy, there is no line drawn now 
between the City and the West End if people 
choose to entertain, and push themselves 
forward. Things were very different once, 



LUCKY AT CARDS, ETC. 273 

and not so lon^r as^o either. I am old- 
fashioned enough to dislike such rapid changes, 
and to feel that though I am, thank God, so 
well off and happy, it is a little hurtful to be 
left out in the cold." 

The banker sat silent for a minute, then 
he said, " I often wondered you have never 
married again." 

"Have you — I do not think you need," 
she answered. 

There ensued an awkward pause — not long 
— but sufficient for a proposal had he wished 
to made it. Mrs. Jubbins sat on thorns, till 
unable to bear the idea that she had in 
any way committed herself, she added, as if 
in continuation, " Where should I ever meet 
with any one who would do full justice to 
my children. Of course, I might have 
married, every woman who has money can 
do that— but— " 

He did not make her any reply; he 
looked at the moss, at the flickering leaves, 

Vol iii. 61 



274 S US Ay DM UMMOND. 

at the modest wild flowers, while his thoughts 
raced backward to the time when his 
father wanted him to ask this woman to be 
his wife. 

He micfht have done a o-reat deal with her. 
He might have made much of his life, 
taken a position in politics, become a landed 
proprietor, gone on, as Mrs. Jubbins truly 
said, other people had gone on, doubled 
the ten talents committed to his charge, 
beyond all things been spared the awful 
trial of lovino' a oirl younc^ enouo'h to be 
his daughter, who would never care for 
him while seed-time and harvest endured, 

It was all a tangled hank, that might 
once have been woven into something 
beautiful and useful, but which now — 
With an impatient gesture he changed his 
position, and idly clasping his hands, re- 
mained with head bent and eyes fixed on the 
ground, while Mrs. Jubbins watched him, and 
wondered what he could be thinking of. 



LUCKY AT CARDS, ETC. 275 

" I am sure," she said at last, " you will 
be kind enough to stay and have some 
dinner with us. ^Iw and Mrs. Gibson have 
taken a house on the Common, and they 
are comino- over this evening. It would 
be such a pleasure to me if you could 
stop and meet them — I know you do not 
care much for City people, but — ." 

" You must indeed think me ungrateful 
if you suppose it is likely I should refuse 
any request of yours." 

" Xow," cried Mrs. Jubbins, with an attempt 
at playfulness which sat a little heavily upon 
her, "I can't have anything of that sort. It 
is I, and I alone, who ought to feel grateful 
— all these years you and your father have 
been showering kindnesses on me, and 
hitherto I have not had even a chance of 
making the slightest return. Then you will 
stop for dinner. Thank you very, very 
much." 

They strolled back to the house through 

61-2 



276 SUSAX DBUMMOyD. 

the wilderness and the dell, over the grass 
that stretched down to the hedge dividing 
the Warren from the high road, up the 
steps into the garden, and so leisurely back 
to the Jiouse through banks of flowers and 
across green soft sward. 

"It is a lovely place," said Mr. Gayre, 
with conviction, as he stood within the 
porch looking at the still peaceful quiet of 
the scene, and he repeated the same idea 
to himself as he leaned later on beside 
one of the windows of a dressing-room 
built out so as to command a view of 
tangled greenery and lofty forest trees. The 
ground at this point slope I sharply away 
from the house, and he could see down 
into the hollow, round which were planted 
beautiful and rare shrubs ; rhododendrons 
grew there in the wildest profusion ; 
variegated hollies lifted their heads on high, 
the graceful Italian broom and the double 
gorse clustered together in friendly acquaint- 



LUCKY AT CARDS, ETC. 277 

ance. Nothing which could please the eye, 
and gratify the taste, and delight the heart 
seemed absent from that fair little domain. 
It was an emerald gem encircled by a band 
of deeper green. 

" A human being might be very happy 
here if he did not bring his own misery 
down with his furniture," thought Mr. Gayre, 
as he turned from the window and addressed 
himself to making such a toilette as was 
possible under the circumstances. 

The bodily fare provided that day at 
dinner was as good as fare could possibly 
be, but the mental nourishment appalled the 
banker. It partook of the nature of mental 
bran and though wholesome was scarcely 
satisfying. 

Mr. and Mrs. Gibson had been old and 
valued friends of the lamented Mr. Jubbins — 
they had also, though in a distant sort of 
way, known the elder Mr. Gayre, and their 
talk was of times gone by, and how things 



278 SUSAN DBUMMOND. 

had clianged, and the price of property hi 
the neighbourhood of Chislehurst, and the 
rents of good houses " good fine houses " in 
the squares, in the better period of old. 

"Ahl"- said Mr. Gibson, "there was no 
necessity then to trouble oneself with keeping 
carriages and horses — and a lot of fellows in 
the stables to eat a man out of house and 
home — one could cover one's friends then 
with a handkerchief. It was just across 
the square, or over the way, or up the 
street, all quiet, and comfortable, and friendly 
— no hurry to catch trains — no tearing and 
rushing about the world. Modern improve- 
ment may be a very fine tlnng, but give me 
the days before steam, sir, life was worth 
having then." 

" I trust, Mr. Gibson, you find life a little 
worth having still," Mrs. Jubbins interposed, 
and then Mrs. Gibson said it was all talk — 
that no one appreciated the convenience of 
railroads more than Mr. Gibson, Avho could 



LUCKY AT CABDS, ETC. 279 

not endure stopping trains. " You know 
3^ou can't, Charles." 

It was all perfectly safe conversation ; no 
human being could have objected to it on 
the score of morality, but Mr. Gayre felt as 
if he were back in the " old days before 
steam," and should never get out of them 
again. 

Xor when that wearj^ dinner was finished, 
and Mr. Gibson had drank as much wine as 
he thoug^ht o'ood for him, did the banker 
find himself at liberty to depart. 

" Mr. Gibson does so long for one rubber, 
Mr. Gayre," pleaded Mrs. Jubbins ; and then 
of course a table was opened and the 
inevitable pack of cards produced — and the 
usual jokes about partners uttered — and then 
a dead silence settled down, and Mr. Gayre 
found himself in possession of a series of as 
bad hands as man could be dealt. 

They played for money — Mr. and Mrs. 
Gibson were partners to Mrs. Jubbins and 



28o SUSAX BBUMMOyD. 

Mr. Gay re. It was perhaps for tliis reason 
the banker's run of ill-hick was regarded by 
his opponents with such equanimity. 

" Never mind, Mr. Gayre," said Mr. Gibson, 
cheerfully, as he pocketed his share of 
the spoil. "Lucky at cards, you know, 
unlucky in love." And the old gentleman 
laughed at his own wit till the tears ran 

o 

down his cheeks, while Mrs. Gibson said, 
archly, " You ought to be ashamed of your- 
self, Charles," and Mrs. Jubbins coloured and 
tried to smile. 

Mr. Gayre also made a feint of joining 
in the merriment, but considering the result 
of his last encounter with Cupid it may 
not seem surprising that his well-meant 
efforts failed to prove signally successful. 

The interminable evening wore on and 
at length the banker was able to remark that 
if he wished to get back to London that 
night he must really say good-bye. 

"The best friends must part," remarked 



LUCKY AT CABDS, ETC. 281 

]\Ir. GifcsoD, regretfully, " we have to thank 
you for a most enjoj'able evening ; Lor, 
what a time it is, Matilda, since we have liad 
such a game of whist." 

" Good-night," said Mrs. Jubbins, giving 
Mr. Gayre her plump hand, which he held 
for a second longer than seemed to Mrs. 
Gibson absolutely necessary. " And I heard 
her say to him, distinctly," mentioned Mr. 
Gibson, as he and his wife drove home a little 
later on, " you have made me so happy." 

Perhaps that was the reason he repeated 
his joke to Mr. Gayre as that gentleman was 
searchino^ for his hat. 

''' There really seems to me," he said, " to 
be a great deal of truth in the proverb I 
quoted just now — 'Lucky in cards, you 
know.' " 

"What an insufferable old donkey," 
thought the banker to himself, as he took 
the short cut throuGfh the erardens, to the 
station. 




CHAPTEE XI. 

THE LESSER EVIL. 

^HEllE is nothing more true than that 
misfortunes never come singly. 
They love company, and when the 
first of the dreary brood knock for admit- 
tance the dwellers in any house selected for 
so great a distinction may feel tolerably 
certain that several more unwelcome guests 
may speedily be expected to follow. 

It seemed to Mv. Gayre, as he walked up 
Wimpole Street, that Fate must be pretty 
well tired of buffeting him, tliat she could 
scarcely hold within her quiver another 
barbed arrow wherewith to harass his body 
and lacerate his soul. Be felt inclined to 
regard Mrs. Jubbins' generous compliance 



THE LESSER EVIL. 283 

with his wishes as a sio-n the worst was over, 
and a new and better era about to com- 
mence. 

Silently he sang a song of thanksgiving ; 
the peril but just escaped was so recent, he 
felt a sense of gratitude stirring within him, 
to which hitherto he must have been ahnost 
a stranger. Once more he breathed freely. 
He saw he could save the bank, and saving 
the bank meant saving Xicholas Gay re 
also. 

" I have never been sufficiently thankful," 
he considered, in which reflection there was 
indeed a much greater amount of truth than 
the banker imagined ; truth is, we remember 
the perils we have encountered but take no 
note of those we escape, and it is always the 
good things human beings have lost or lack 
they clasp tight within their memories, whilst 
blessings literally showered upon them are 
forgotten. " Not sufficiently thankful " — why 
this unconscious Pharisee had never been 



284 S us AN DR UMMOXD. 

thankful at all. He wanted too much out of 
life, and behold, that he might understand 
fully the value of the gifts he had despised 
he saw his possession of them trembling in 
the balance. 

But all danger was now past, he decided ; 
no need for him to contemplate the possibility 
of having to go down into the ranks and 
painfully strive to work his way up once 
more into that state of life which had been 
his only by purchase. He felt most grateful 
to Mrs. Jubbins for having relieved him from 
the pressure of extreme anxiety, and after a 
vague sort of fashion he did thank Provi- 
dence for having sent him so generous a 
friend at such a crisis. H conscience whis- 
pered the remark that he had not treated 
Mrs. Jubbins exactly well — plausibility, ready 
for the emergency, suggested the greater 
Mrs. Jubbins' disappointment the greater 
her merit ; had she given with the one hand 
and taken with the other the virtues of 



THE LESSER EVIL, 285 

self-renunciation could scarcely have been 
attributed to lier. It would be quite com- 
petent for him always to think hereafter of 
Mrs. Jubbins as his good — his best friend ; 
and the reflection pleased and soothed him, 
spite of his positive assertion to Susan 
Drummond that friendship between a man 
and a woman is an impossibility. Circum- 
stances alter cases, and as he felt love to- 
wards Mrs. Jubbins to be on his part out of 
the question he reverted to that convenient 
word which he averred to Susan was nothing 
but a delusion and a snare. 

" Confound that stupid old owl, with his 
'lucky at cards unlucky in love,' " he repeated, 
as he put his key in the lock at Wimpole 
Street. "All that sort of thing is such 
execrable taste and makes a woman so 
uncomfortable, too," — and then he stepped 
across his threshold to meet a fresh misfor- 
tune, which had been patiently awaiting his 
arrival. 



286 S US Ay DE LLVMOXD. 

" Mr. Fife left tliis note for you, Colonel," 
said Eawlings, coming across the hall, " he 
told me to give it to you the moment 3'ou 
returned. He waited for a long time," and 
then the man paused and pretended to be 
putting his master's umbrella in the stand, 
while Mr. Gayre tore open Mr. Fife's com- 
munication and read — 

"Pengrove has given us the slip. I was 
always, if you remember, doubtful of your 
friend the detective, who, I imagine, has 
been ' squared.' P's disappearance means, 
I am afraid, that there is something wrong 
you have not yet discovered. Quite knocked 
up and must get some sleep. Better call on 
me as you go to the bank to-morrow — does 
not matter how early. P. never showed 
after luncheon to-day." 

" Call me at six to-morrow morning, Eaw- 
lings," said Mr. Gayre, after he had read 
this agreeable communication twice over. 
"What is the matter?" he added, for the 



THE LESSER EVIL. 287 

first time noticing Eawlings' manner, '' any 
one else been to see me ? " 

"Xo, Colonel, no one except Miss 
Chelston." 

" Miss Chelston ; Sir Geoffrey, you mean, 
I suppose ? " 

" Miss Clielston ; she came about four 
o'clock, and Mrs. Bowcroft had the spare 
room got ready, and she went to bed an hour 
ago — she said she felt so tired — " 

" My niece in this house," said Mr. Gayre, 
^vho really doubted the evidence of his ears. 

" Yes, Colonel, I took her luggage upstairs, 
and there is a letter in the library, in which, 
she told me to tell you. Sir Geoffrey had ex- 
plained everything." 

" I suppose I am going to hear some other 
pleasant piece of news," thought Mr. Gayre, 
passing into the library and taking up his 
brother-in-law's epistle. 

"Dear Gayre," (it began)— "Peg Avill 
take this to you. Poor Peg, I am forced 



2S8 SUSAX DRUMMOyD. 

to bundle her out of Xorth Bank at a 
moment's notice — long expected has come 
at last ! A scoundrelly wine merchant, 
whom I may without any yanity say I 
made — put in an execution yesterday. Just 
shows what one has to expect from that 
sort of person. ^\^iy, the beggar must 
have had thousands of orders from fellows 
who drank his wine at my table. If right 
were right he ought to be in my debt, instead 
of its being made out all the other way. 
However, he can't get sixpence out of me, 
that's one comfort. This is the solitary 
advantage of being poor — you can't strip a 
naked man — not but what, if the law would 
let them, many of these rascals would like to 
flay a debtor. 

" Of course I had to go down to Moreby's 
lawyers. They put a man in ostensibly 
to put the other bailiff out — and they're 
serying me the pretty trick of keeping him 
in — They are acting as badly as gentlemen 



THE LESSER EVIL. 289 

of their kidney know how. Fortunately 
it does not matter much to me — I wouhl 
rather leave here, but for Peg — poor htlle 
desolate woman, don't be hard on her if you 
can help it ; you are not the Almighty, re- 
member, and there is no necessity for you to 
visit her father's and mother's sins on the 
girl. I'll write you acfain as soon as I know 
what I am going to do. I shall keep out of 
the way for a little while, as I know thei-e's a 
nasty thing now, called contempt of court, 
whereby any pestilent ruffian of a creditor, 
when he fails to get his money in meal can 
apply to have it in malt, in other words 
take your body if he fail to pick your purse. 
Heaven only knows what is to become of me. 
It is all darkness— I do wish earnestly some- 
times Heaven would kindly give us a hint as 
to its intentions — a lot of time and trouble 
might be saved, if we only knew the 
dii-ection in which we were expected to 
work. 

Vol. iii. 62 



290 ' SUSAN DBUMMOXI). 

" I can't give you any address, for I don't 
know myself where I am going. Very likely, 
however, you would just as soon be without 
one, as you are near the top of the hill, and I 
am close to the bottom. 
" Don't be hard on Peg. 

" Yours faithfully,! 

"' Geoffrey Chelston, Infelix. 

" By-the-bye, you had better take Sudlow in 
hand. He's an awful cad and I can do 
nothing with him — I always thought that 
party at Mrs. Jubbins' was a mistake — He 
ought not to have been disillusioned regard- 
ing your social standing. However, that can't 
be helped now, and as he's so old a friend of 
yours possibly you may be able to bring him 
to book. Good-bye, if you never see me 
again, remember, I did my best — but a man 
who has wind and tide always against him 
can't do much." 

Mr. Gayre's first feeling when he finished 



THE LESSEE EVIL. 291 

Sir Geoffrey's valedictory address was 
surprise tliat tlie baronet had not thought 
long previously of so simple and excellent a 
way of burdening someone else — and that 
someone himself — with the fair Marguerite. 
It seemed to him that the young lady might 
just as easily have been passed on to Wimpole 
Street months before. If the transference 
were possible now— and in the face of the 
evidence before him how could he doubt its 
possibility — no reason existed why it should 
not have taken place then. 

Flinging himself into a chair he tried to 
think the matter out and failed. Strive as 
earnestl}' as he would to consider the question 
of his niece, his mind constantly wandered 
down to the bank or the securities, all locked 
or not locked, in the strong room. 

Sleeping and waking the bank was now on 
his mind. IsTot more sorrowfully did the 
five foolish virgins lament that fatal delay in 
buying their oil which involved such dis- 



62—2 



1 92 S us AX JDR UMMOXD. 

astrous consequences than did Nicholas 
Gayre mourn concerning the way he had 
neglected his business, and allowed what 
remained of a once fine property to drift so 
far across the sea of loss. 

Eeturning from Chislehurst, it had seemed 
to him safety and honour were still possible ; 
but now he beijan to doubt. What if a 
further loss were really impending — if some 
security quite beyond his power to replace 
had been abstracted ? In such case he saw 
no resource, except to make a full and 
swift confession, give up every sixpence he 
owned in the world, and middle-aged though 
he was, try to make some fresh start in 
life. 

Why had all this trouble come upon him 
he wondered ? Other men had fallen in love 
with young girls and won them too ; other 
men had trusted to subordinates without 
being absolutely beggared through over con- 
fidence ; other men better born, more highly 



THE LESSER EVIL. 293 

connected, possessed of friends, mixing in 
the very first ranks of society, had " gone in " 
for business and found good in it instead 
of evil. Dimly he understood the fault lay 
somewhere in himself, that he had been too 
sure, too confident of the sagacity and 
honour and honesty of that excellent per- 
son Xicholas Gayre ; by slow degrees it 
was dawning upon him that not merely 
was he no better than those outer sinners 
the publicans, whom he had in his heart 
derided, but that he was a great deal 
worse. One short year ago had any one 
said — "You will behave to the girl you 
love like a cad, you will try to shirk 
your duty to your neighbour, and strive 
to skulk by on the other side if you can ; 
you will ask a woman for money you 
know has always hoped you would marry 
her, and accept substantial help, though 
you are well aware you never had a 
feeling of affection for her ; you will almost 



294 S USAN BE UMMOND. 

succumb under the apprehension of loss of 
money, and let a low vulgar fellow beat you 
in resource, and in promptitude " — he would 
have answered, " Is thy servant a dog that 
he should do these things ? " — and behold he 
had done them and more. 

There was nothing to set on the other 
side of the account ; the few good actions 
he had performed were prompted, he was 
well aware, by any other spirit than that of 
unselfish benevolence. Could he in future do 
any better ? — he asked himself, as he lay that 
nio'ht between such intervals of unrefresh- 
ing sleep as nature pleased to vouchsafe. 
He had meant to try, but now he did not 
know. If anything more than what he was 
already aware of had really gone astray at 
the bank, he felt a dead man might as 
readily offer to make atonement to the living 
as he? Now he grasped how greatly lie 
had valued money, and once during the dark- 
ness he wearily wandered away into sleep, with 



THE LESSEE EVIL. 295 

the words of a long-forgotten text recurring 
to his memory : " There is he that scattereth 
yet increaseth." 

Nicholas Gayre had not scattered even a 
grain of wheat he could avoid, and he had 
not increased ; rather poverty threatened to 
come " as one that travelleth," and it 
was with an uneasy sense of the converse 
of the text being in his own case literally 
fulfilled that he followed this first sug- 
ijestion into the mazes of dreamland where 
he lost it. 

Early the next morning, after pencilling 
a few lines of reluctant welcome to his 
niece, who, being fond of her ease, had no 
fancy for " brushing the dew at early 
dawn," Mr. Gayre proceeded to Mr. Fife's 
lodgings. 

"There may be nothing in my notion, 
you know," said that gentleman, " but upon 
the other hand there may. ' Bolting' seems 
to me an uncommonly bad sign." 



296 SUSAN DRUMMOyD. 

"But I have gone through all the securities, 
and they seem right enough." 

" Perhaps. If I were you I'd go over 
them all again ; there is such a thing, you 
know, as — " 

" Forgery," suggested Mr. Gayre. 

" Well, I was not thinking exactly of 
forgery," said Mr. Fife, "My notion is, 
he has ' substituted.' You see it would be 
easy enough to get a fresh cover drafted, 
and I'll be bound, you never took time to 
examine more than the outside of the deeds 
you hold in trust." 

" Good Heavens, no," exclaimed Mr. Gayre, 
" practically, therefore, there may be no 
limit to the extent of his defalcations." 

" I shouldn't go so far as that," answered 
Mr. Fife ; " after all, the thing has not been 
going on very very long. I knew about the 
amount of his losses, and though I can't tell 
how much that little game at Tooting cost, 
still I have allowed a pretty tidy margin for 



THE LESSER EVIL. 297 

the expenses there. If you remember, I said 
1 thought you Tvould find yourself a hundred 
thousand out of pocket. We have not quite 
touched that sum in our investigations 
Suppose the worst comes to the worst, you 
will find a hundred and fifty thousand 
amply cover everything. I suppose Gayres' 
can stand that." 

" N'ot if the bank is to keep open " 

" H — m. Well, the best thing we can do is 
to get to Lombard Street and find out the 
exact nature of the leak. We can talk 
about stopping or sinking afterwards. You've 
found someone, I hope, to lend you enough 
money to go on with." 

" Yes — but I shan't take it unless I see 
my way clearly to pull through." 

" Well, we need not discuss that point now. 
It may be necessary to apply for a warrant 
for our friend, but don't do that till later in 
the day. Let him get as long a start as 
possible. We don't want hiin back too soon. 



298 S US AX BR UMMONB. 

if ever. Now if you walk quietly up to the 
Bank you'll find me at your private door 
almost as soon as 3'ou're ready for me." 

During the whole of that day each person 
who w^anted to see the manager was informed 
his wife was ill, and he absent from business. 
If on receiving this reply any individual 
adventured to enquire whether Mr. Gayre 
happened to be in town, he received for reply 
the unexpected intelligence that Mr. Gayre 
was in town but so deeply engaged he 
could not be interrupted. There never was a 
truer statement: Mr. Gayre chanced, indeed 
to be engaged! All the forenoon and most 
of the afternoon he was busy checking the 
securities and he finally left himself barely 
time to ^o round and see his solicitors and 
proceed with one of the firm to the Mansion 
House, where he applied for a warrant to take 
the person of Titus Pengrove, on the charge 
of robbery and of dealing witli valuable 
securities. 



THE LESSEE EVIL. 299 

Then he walked to the station and took 
train for Chislehurst. He had made up his 
mind he would not take Mrs. Jubbins' money 
novr he knew it was impossible for him to 
meet his liabilities and keep on the bank. 
He must withdraw capital from the business 
and he could not, even on the Gayre system 
of commerce, do that and still manage to 
keep afloat. Only the previous night safety 
seemed possible ; less than twenty-four hours 
had served to change the whole aspect of 
his life. 

The Chislehurst woods were not less fair, 
the grass was not less green, the spring- 
flowers had not closed their petals, the air 
was full of the sweet scents that yesterday 
seemed so fragrant. Nature was the same, 
but the man who looked upon her exceeding- 
loveliness had changed totally. His body 
lacked strength, his hmbs were weary, his 
forehead burned, his parched lips made 
speech painful, his mind was so distracted 



3CX) S US AN DR UMMOXD. 

lie took no notice of distance, save by the 
measure of physical fatigue ; the hill leading 
to the Warren, in those few hours since 
last he breasted it, appeared to have grown 
strangely steep, the series of rustic steps 
leading up through the garden from the 
wicket gate to the house seemed intermin- 
able ; two or three times he was forced to 
pause while ascending them ; for him tas- 
selled larch and silvery birch and burnished 
copper beech and trembling linden, had 
donned their bravest apparel all in vain. 
He was hke one blind and deaf wandering- 
through a world of beauty and delight. As 
a sick man rejects the most delicate food, as 
a broken heart finds discord m the most 
harmonious music, as laughter grates on 
the ear of grief, and mirth increases the 
sadness of sorrow; so to Nicholas Gayre all 
the sweet sounds and influences of nature 
seemed to his dulled senses and hopeless 
heart but so many aggravations of his grief. 



THE LESSEE EVIL. 301 

For others, for the children, for happy lovers, 
for eager youth and prosperous middle life, 
and ripe old age contented to sit basking in 
the sunshine of ease and competence, 
flower and bud and leaf and bird might add 
fresh charms to the soft beauty of spring 
and the glory of summer ; but to this man, 
born and bred amongst those who considered 
money a necessary essential before the most 
ordinary happiness could be hoped for ; and 
who now saw the fortune he once fully 
believed founded on a rock beaten by the 
rain and shaken by the wind and engulfed 
by the floods and levelled with the earth ; 
what thoughts, save those of loss and 
disaster, could the changing seasons ever 
in the dark future bring ? 

The power of riches — the possibility of 
fame, the hope of love, the wild longings, 
the noble aspirations of youth, all gone 
— all vanished like the pageant of a dream, 
what remained for him to do ? Nothing 



302 SUSAN DRUMMOyD, 

save to tell Mrs. Jubbins the truth and 
release her from a promise given in 
ignorance of his actual position. And for 
Susan? Yes, he would do right there too 
— but he could not think about her just 
tlien ; for a moment he lingered, looking 
into the hollow where he had stood beside 
her on that happy night so long — so long 
aofo, when the sound of the music floated 
softly down among the ferns and the under- 
growth, when with her hand restino- on 
his arm she talked about love in a cottage 
and looked under the starlight a woman 
to love on earth, an angel to lead a man 
to heaven. 

And what had he made of that chance ? 
i?Llmost with a groan he put that question 
aside, and walking on as quickly as his 
tired limbs permitted, once more found 
himseK at the porch inquiring if Mrs. 
Jubbins were within. 

He found her alone in the smaller 



THE LESSEE EVIL. 305, 

dra^ving-room, engaged, with a liumility 
quite touching when evinced by so rich 
a woman, in modestly knitting a stocking. 

" Well, this is delightful," she cried, 
" How do you do Mr. Gayre — why, what is 
the matter," she added, " surely you are not 
ill?" 

"No, I am not ill,'" he said, "but some- 
thing has happened," and then he told 
her. 

They were both standing. She had risen 
to greet him, and he opened his budget of 
ill news so suddenly — and it was such 
awful news — she never asked him to be 
seated ; the ordinary questions of life for 
the time were completely driven out of mind. 

For a minute or two after he ended, she 
remained perfectly still, grappling with the 
difficulty — trying to make the whole matter 
clear to her comprehension ; then laying 
her white strong hand upon his arm she 
spoke these words : 



304 



S USA^'' DE UMM 0.\ 1). 



•' We mustn't let the bank go ; whatever 
we do, we must not let the bank go." 

"I can't prevent it going," he answered. 

" But we can," she persisted, " if my poor 
husband were alive now — if your dear 
father could come back to us — they would 
both say, ' Don't let the bank go.' Why, it 
is madness even to think of Gayres' sus- 
pending payment. You know the worst now, 
and between us we can surely weather the 
storm. Sit down and let us consider what is 
best to be done. You say some of my 
securities have been abstracted ; that does 
not matter in the least ; there are plenty 
left. Oh, Mr. Gayre ! I wonder if it was for 
this all the money was left in my hands, 
so that I can do what I like with it, 
without asking the consent of any human 
being." 

He did not answer — he could not — the 
revulsion of feeling was too great, too 
sudden. Ten minutes before he had re- 



THE LESSEE EVIL. 305 

garded himself as virtually a beggar, and 
now — 

" But before we get to business you must 
have something to eat, I daresay if the truth 
were known you have not tasted food to-day. 
Xo, do not look like that, I cannot bear to 
see you. Surel}^ — surely — you won't object 
to taking help from an old friend. Besides, 
as I told you yesterday, hitherto it has been 
all the other way. I have been the person 
obliged. It is merely my turn now ; you 
can't grudge giving me the happiness of 
helping you a little. If the cases we/e 
reversed I know you would do the same f('i- 
me, and more." 

He knew no such thing, indeed he knew 
the very opposite ; impulsive generosity, 
unreasoning friendship, liberahty except on 
undoubted security, had never been failings 
of the old-estabHshed and highly respectable 
Urm of Lombard Street bankers. Mr. 
Gayre would not have objected to lending 

Vol. iii. 63 



3o6 SUSAN DBUMMOND. 

Mrs. Jubbins a few thousands, or even to 
giving her a moderate sum of money had she 
really stood in need of it, but to act the part 
towards her, or anybody else, she was pro- 
posing to act tow^ards him (and she a clever 
woman of business, and one who knew the 
value of capital !) would have seemed to him, 
and perhaps w^ith reason, the height of 
madness. 

She had grown quite earnest in her 
appeal. The same loyalty of feeling which 
impelled the Jacobites to exile and the 
scaffold was stirring in Mrs. Jubbins' warm 
heart then. 

Gayres had ever been to her what the 
Stuarts were to the Cavaliers. She could not 
reason about the matter ; it seemed impossible 
to her that Gayres' should go while she had 
the power of saving it. The spice of 
romance which hand in hand with the most 
practical common sense had ever walked 
beside Eliza Jubbins, nee Higgs, was at 



THE LESSER EVIL. 307 

last fully asserting itself. Still a handsome 
Avoman, possessed of a face on which j'ears 
had as yet traced very few lines, well 
preserved, prosperous — for the moment sen- 
timent and the consciousness of meaninir to 
perform a kindly action made her actually 
beautiful. 

The evening sunlight fell across hair thick 
and glossy as ever ; her fine eyes were 
soft and liquid with emotion, her mouth 
was sweet with tender smiles as she pleaded 
to be allowed her share in trying to save 
Gayres' ; her hand was unconsciously pressed 
more heavily on the banker's arm and yet 
he could not speak, only slowly he took 
that persuasive hand in his, and held it 
close while he looked wistfully at his old 
playmate. 

Before that look her eyes fell — her colour 
rose, and she would have released her hand 
but that it was locked too fast to be 
withdrawn without an unseemly struggle. 

63—2 



3o8 S US AX BR UMMOXD. 

" You will let me help you," she said, 
dissemblino- even to herself, as women always 
do at such a juncture. 

" If I may keep this hand," he answered, 
and kissed the ringed fingers she did not 
now even strive to withdraw. 

It had come at last ; after years he had 
proposed, and in this fashion. 

That morning it never entered his mind 

he could ask Mrs. Jubbins to marry him, 

that morning she could not have conceived 

it likely that bliss was ever to be hers. 

She may have wished it had come at some 

other time, and in some other guise, but 

it was welcome at any time and in any 

form. The whole matter did not seem to 

her strange. Before Mr. Gayre returned 

to town she felt as though she had been 

engaged to him for years. On both sides 

it was indeed as old Mr. Gayre would have 

said, "most suitable" — what poor Mr. 

Jubbins might have thought was quite a 



THE LESSEE EVIL. 309 

different affair. At parting, Mrs. Jubbins 
said, " Now you will promise me to see a 
doctor this evening, for I feel sure you 
are going to be ill," to which Mr. Gayre 
replied, "I will see a doctor, but I shall 
not be ill now^ 

Upon the whole it seemed perhaps pleasant 
to have even Mrs. Jubbins anxious concern- 
ing his health ; except so far as the malady 
might affect Oliver Dane Susan would 
probably not have cared had he been 
smitten Avith small pox! Travelling back 
to London, Mr. Gayre, reviewing the position 
at his leisure, found more cause for satis- 
faction than discontent. He felt very 
grateful to Mrs. Jubbins, yet he shrank 
from the idea of marrying her. 

When menaced by two dangers, however, 
it is true wisdom to select the least, and 
Mr. Gayre decided the widow was by far 
a lesser ill than beggary. And he meant 
to act fairly to her and to her children. 



.^lO 



SUSAN DliVMMOND. 



Perhaps he thought he had given a tan- 
gible proof of the bona fides of his inten- 
tions by making that tardy offer of his 
heart and hand. 




CHAPTEE XII. 

" ALL FOR LOVE AN'D THE WORLD WELL LOST ! " 

IfJ^HOUGH in no gay mood Mr. Gayre 
^A^ laiigiied as these words crossed his 
mind. He recalled his own experience. If 
ever man had been passionately in love that 
man was himself, and yet when put in the 
scales love flew up to the beam, and money 
weighed down the balance. ''It is all very 
well for young people," he thought, " to talk 
like that ; young folks always expect the 
wherewithal to feed love wiU spring up 
like the grass. Prudent papas, mercenary 
mammas, who have saved and toiled for 
their children, are to provide the few items 
love requires to make itself comfortable. 
Love — true love, the love of the poets, wants 



312 5 us AN DR UMMOXD. 

its rent paid, its taxes settled, its trades- 
people satisfied, its servants fed, its pocket- 
money found by somebody else ; the moment 
real Love finds there are a few difficulties in 
the way, and that bed, board, and lodging 
must be hardly toiled for by the lover, it 
has a nasty, but wise way of metamorphos- 
ing itself. It ceases to have golden locks ; 
it assumes the form of Mammon sometimes 
in a wig, but always in a carriage, and witli a 
satisfactory income." 

All of which tirade merely meant that 
Nicholas Gayre was trying to reconcile him- 
self to the course he had taken. It was he 
who felt his love required many other things 
beside bread and cheese for its maintenance. 
If we come to that in the days of King 
Nebuchadnezzar there were but few of the 
children of Israel found constant to refuse the 
meat and the wine they considered defiled, 
and able to remain faithful to the pulse and 
water which "fave them " knowledge and skill 



"ALL FOR LOVE AXD THE WORLD WELL LOST!' 313 

in all learning and wisdom, and Daniel under- 
standing all visions and dreams." The heart 
of man has not changed much since then. 
In his soul ^Ir. Gayre knew that even had 
Susan cared for him he should have preferred 
the fieshpots of riches to the manna of 
poverty. 

Xo one finds it exactly pleasant to face the 
fact of his own worldliness, and the banker 
found it convenient and almost pleasant to 
meet the knowledge of his own unworthiness 
w^th a gibe. 

Besides, Susan disliked, and Mrs. Jubbins 
liked him. If marriage in his then state of 
impecuniosity were to be at all, it had better 
take place with a woman who brought not 
merely money but love into the state 
•• (jrdained by God." 

There could be nothing more certain than 
til at Mr. Gayre meant to act quite honestly 
by Mrs. Jubbins. He intended to pay her 
back every farthing she had advanced, to 



314 5 US AX BR UMMOXB. 

promote lier children's interests, to be a 
father to young people who were antagonistic 
to every taste ; in a sentence "to do the 
right thing." He felt very grateful to the 
widow, he liked her better than he had 
ever thouo-ht to like her. He intended to 
give way to her in many things, he purposed 
being a good steward, a faithful husband ; 
nevertheless, he loathed and despised himself 
for having made such a bargain, he who 
never hesitated about riding " straight into 
the jaws of death," who had once sprang 
into the saddle more cheerily than bride- 
groom ever went forth from his chamber. 

He could not even say to himself that he 
had acted from impulse. His reason felt 
satisfied with his conduct though his soul 
recoiled from it. The thing he had done 
was " after his kind," — no use for him 
even to say he had not followed his nature. 
This much there was to be said in extenuation 
of that step which could not be retraced. 



■ALL FOR LOVE ASU THE WOULD WELL LOST!" 315 

He had proposed not because he knew he 
should otherwise fail to get what he wanted, 
but merely in grateful recognition of the 
widow's kindness. Such generosity he felt 
merited some return, and so he offered all he 
had to offer — himself. It was far more than 
enough he considered, with a shudder. That 
one entry reversed the debit and credit side 
of their account. He merely meant to take 
the use of her money for awhile, and in 
exchange he had given her his life. Well, 
it did not much matter. Hitherto he had 
not made so great a use of his opportunities 
that one more flung away need ^break his 
heart. He would conform to the world's 
ideas — he would settle down to business — he 
would believe in the greatness of city 
magnates, he would try to forget that time 
which seemed so far away — when the blare of 
the trumpets — the call of the bugle, seemed 
to him the sweetest music ever heard by 
mortal ear. He would remember youth with 



3 1 6 5 US AX DE UMMOND . 

its illusions was s^one — that middle a«je with 
its realities had come — that, worst of all, 
the autumn and winter of life were creeping 
on — that he was growing too old for senti- 
ment, and that besides Susan Drummond did 
not love him, while to Eliza Jubbins he had 
ever seemed a hero of romance ! 

A great deal of unpleasant work still lay 
before him. He had to put the bank straight, 
to arrange many business details with Mrs. 
Jubbins — see how things stood between his 
niece and Mr. Sudlow — hurry on his law}'ers 
about the Oliver Dane affair, and last but 
certainly not least, end everything for ever 
between himself and Susan Drummond. 

In England a man cannot legally marry 
two wives. Often he finds one more than 
enough, and it was evident that now Mr. 
Gayre was engaged to the widow he must 
sever all connection with Susan Drummond. 

So far Mrs. Jubbins had behaved with the 
strictest propriety — but her old playfellow 



''ALL FOB LOVE AXD THE WOULD WELL LOST;- 317 

had not forgotten those resonant kisses, those 
fond embraces, which made existence terrible 
to him in his boyhood. With trembhng 
fingers Mr. Gayre just lifted the veil of the 
future and peeped behind it. The prospect 
was awful — most awful — so awful and abhor- 
rent he dropped the curtains incontinently. 
Nevertheless it was better than ruin and dis- 
grace. Greatly to be preferred a line in the 
marriage list to a paragraph in the money 
article. The Gayres had held themselves so 
high and believed they were so secure ! Mr. 
Jubbins had looked up to them, and lo and 
behold it was his money made in oil which 
was now to prove to the Gayres temporal 
salvation. 

Well, it is of no use bhnking facts, and 
the first thing evidently to be done was to 
release Susan from her agreement. But how 
to word the case, He certainly could not say. 
" I am going to marry Mrs. Jubbins," or " I 
have lost my money." How on earth would 



3 1 S S US AX DR UMMOXn. 

it be competent for him to put it ? Mr. Gayre 
felt he could only await the chapter of acci- 
dents ; lie low and watch results. 

But yet he must in some way indicate 
the way of the wind to Susan. It was 
essential he should tell her that ill-starred 
engagement might be considered at an end ; 
therefore next day, before he showed at the 
bank, he repaired to her lodgings, where the 
landlady, who in person answered the door, 
greeted him with a pleased smile, and said, 
Miss Drummond was at home. 

He waited for her a minute or two, then 
Susan appeared, and with a stiff bow recog- 
nized his presence. 

"You wished to see me," she said, laying 
lier hand on the table and speaking as 
though she had been walking very fast, and 
found it strangely hard to get her breath. 

"Yes, Miss Drummond, if you will kindly 
sit down I shall perhaps be able to talk a 
little better." 



^^ALL FOR LOVE AND THE WOELB WELL LOST!'' 319 

" About— Oliver ? " 

"No, singular as it may seem, not about 
Oliver. Besides that gentleman, there are a 
few millions of other persons in the world, 
myself a unit amongst tliem, you under- 
stand that." 

" And, Mr. Gayre — ?" she said, rising and 
looking strangely cold and resolute, as she 
spoke. 

Just for a moment he swayed his hat 
gently to and fro ere he spoke — then — 

" I have come to release you from our 
compact," he said, quite quietly. 

She looked at him, startled. 

" Do you mean — ? " she asked, at last. 

" Just what I say," he answered, " I bring 

•you liberty ; never again need you look 

at me as one abhorred ; never more will 

it be necessar}' for you to shrink from my 

touch ; you are perfectly free." 

He thought he heard her murmur, "My 
God, I thank thee," but the cry of gratitude 



320 SUSAN DBUMMOXB. 

was merged iu the question, "And what 
about OHver. Oh, Mr. Gayre ! don't give us 
both up together." 

" No," he answered, " no, I shall never 
cease striving for his release till you and he 
meet once more. Good-bye, Miss Drummond 
— good-bye, my dear. I was mad once, for 
which I beg your pardon. I am sane now, 
and really I do not think I need beg your 
pardon at all." 

" But Avhat about Oliver ? " 

"He must wait a little, his case is being 
seen to. Gracious Heaven, Miss Drummond, 
you have heard me just now give up my 
soul's desire, and yet you never say, thank 
you ; you have no thought or pity save for 
' Oliver.' Take him, marry him," added the 
banker, shaken by a sudden whirlwind of 
passion. " Only I pray God that, living or 
dead, I may never hear his name again." 

^- Mr. Gayre — Mr. Gayre," she cried, rushing 
to the door after him and laying a detaining 



^'ALL FOR LOVEASD THE WORLD WELL LOST.'"' 321 

hand upon liis arm, whicli he tried in vain to 
-shake off 

" Go," he said, " go, I lament the day I 
£rst saw you, the hour I first spoke to you ; 
till that time I respected myself fairly, but 
•ever since I have been acting a mean, 
cowardly part towards my Maker and my 
fellows. For the Almighty's sake, do not 
tempt me to lose my soul and my substance 
as well. I never was rich, and my love for 
you has left me bankrupt, not merely in 
heart but also well-nigh in pocket. Let me 
go while I am master of myself — good-bye." 

But still she held him, she clasped his arm 
with both her hands, and her tears fell down 
like rain as she sobbed " I can't bear it — I 
•cannot. You shall not leave me till you say 
you forgive me — that we are friends." 

" Friends ! " he repeated, scornfully. " How 
like a woman — to prate ahoiit friendship to a 
man who has loved as I have loved. You 
have been very cruel to me — you are not 

Vol. iii. 64 



322 S US AX D E UMMOND. 

really sorry for me now. You do not know 
what love means when youth is over — when 
spring has gone, and no fresh sap can ever 
rise again to nourish one green leaf of hope 
and promise." 

" Oh ! do not say that," she entreated — 
"there will be a fair springtime yet for you. 
The day must come when you will meet 
some one you can love and marry — and — " 

"I shall probably marry," he interrupted,. 
" but love again I never can — besides, who 
could love me. You have taught me that 
the whole passion of my soul — the undivided 
affection of my heart — is incapable of winning 
one tender smile, one feeling of regard — " 

" But oil ! " she said, looking up at him 
with swimming eyes full of sorrow and 
womanly pity, " my love was given long 
before we met. If it had not been — had I 
never known Oliver — " 

He could bear no more. With a sudden 
wrench he tore himself away, leaving the 



" ALL FOB LOVE ASD THE ]V01iLD WELL LOST! " 323 

girl, wlio liacl never come so near loving him 
before, in an agony of grief. For tlie 
moment she foro-ot even Oliver — the o-reat 
tide of her faithful affection seemed to ebb 
out in one husre wave — leavinoj an arid waste 
of memory, on which was traced only the 
image of a broken and despairing man. 

Had she known more of his nature, 
however, she would have understood that 
paroxysm of ungovernable agony was but 
the dying struggle of a passion which had 
torn and tormented him. Even in the first 
misery of that final parting, he felt a sense 
of relief that all was over. The face of 
his dead wore as yet no look either calm 
or beautiful, but at least, the misery of 
suspense would not have to be gone through 
again for ever. He had suffered, no human 
being could know how horribly — he had 
grown hateful to himself — he had been 
falling lower and lower in his own esteem, 
till at last self-examination became torture. 

64—2 



324 S USAN DB UMMOIs'J). 

He had done thiugs of which he could not 
have beheved himself capable — he had 
forgotten honour, mercy, justice, all, because 
a woman had sweet, wistful brown ej'es, 
and the fairest face he ever looked upon. 

If love fail to purify the waters of a 
human soul it fouls them, and it is not 
without reason we pray the best instincts 
of our nature may produce a blessing, not 
a curse. It rests with each amoncrst us 
to decide which course to pursue. We can 
climb, blinded it may be into tears and shod 
with sorrow, to heights, illuminated by a 
sun which never streams across any low or 
unworthy road mortality elects to tread ; 
or we may trail our love through the mire 
of earth, till nothing remains at last but 
the marred and broken image, from which 
our anguished hearts shall finally behold 
the last trace of comeliness fade utterly 
away. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

ANYTHING BUT PLEASxVNT. 



'v^■■^,..>^/-v• . 




ROM the time settlements were first 
mentioned his most partial friend 
could not have described Mr. Sudlow as an 
ardent suitor. 

He had tried every means of avoiding 
making any, and when he found Sir Geoffrey 
what the baronet described as " stiff," he 
bejran seriouslv to re-consider the whole 
question of marriage. 

He had learned that money makes any man 
of value in the matrimonial market and it 
occurred to him that he might do a good 
deal better than Miss Chelston. He might 
not get a more beautiful wife, but there 
was no reason why he should not secure one 



326 -S USjy BR UMMOXD. 

even better born and movino- in the best 
circles. Mr. Sudlow's only weakness chanced 
to be a craze for good society, and he 
had not long possessed the privilege of 
Sir Geoffrey Chelston's friendship before 
he clearly understood whatever the rank 
of that gentleman's acquaintances might be, 
his dauofhter did not visit at arand houses or 
receive visits from ladies whose names were 
ever likely to figure in the Court Journal. 

Not all the baronet's finessino^ and talk 
about great people could deceive him on 
this point. For a short time he suffered 
himself to be deluded into the belief that his 
adored one could introduce him to those 
charmed circles where fashion holds his^li 
carnival, but this idea was soon dispelled. 

As regarded Mr. Gayre also. Sir Geoffrey's 
notion was rio-ht. The banker had ceased to 
be a hero to his former admirer. There are 
some persons it is unsafe to admit to a 
private view of dignit}^ in dressing gown and 



AyYTHIXG BUT PLEAS AST. 327 

slippers, and Xortli Bank and The Warren 
exactly represented this sort of attire to Mr. 
Sudlow's artless inexperience. To quote his 
own mental phrase, he didn't " think much " 
of the Chelston or Gayre set. He had never 
met and he was never likely to meet the 
Canon, and if he had, even that respectable 
clergyman would scarcely to his mind have 
represented a Court card. Sir Geoffrey 
-certainly did know some persons of title, but 
then as a rule they were black sheep, and, 
whether black or white, took no pains to con- 
ceal that they meant to have nothing what- 
ever to do with Mr. Sudlow. He was far 
too careful and model a voum? man to find 
favour in their eyes. He looked many times 
-at a sovereign before changing it ; he would 
not bet, he did not drink, he knew nothing 
about horses, he was not amusing, or good- 
natured, or useful ; he bored even Miss 
Chelston to death, and she certainly was 
not a peculiarly lively person. 



328 S US AN DU UMMOXD. 

Altogether Mr. Sudlow felt greatly dis- 
appointed Avitli the result of the first love- 
affair he had adventured upon that could^ 
with any propriety, be spoken about, and 
he was steadfastly purposed if possible ta 
make those settlements a cause for breaking 
off the match. It was ridiculous to expect 
him to marrv a mrl who had not a shillimr 
or a settled social position, who, spite of 
being a baronet's daughter, was in reality 
more thorouglily a nobody than himself.. 
If Mr. Gavre liked to mve his niece a 
fortune, he would put down an equal amount. 
There was no reason why the banker should 
not do this, yet Mr. Sudlow scarcely feh 
brave enouo-h to make the suo'uestion. 

When he received a note, however, from 
Mr. Gayre, asking him to call in Lombard 
Street, lie began to think matters might 
still take a favourable turn. He knew Miss 
Chelston was in Wimpole Street, but he did 
not know why, and under the circumstances. 



ANYTHING BUT PLEAS Ay T. 329 

it was natural enoucfli he should imagine 
Mr. Gap'e at last meant to " act hand- 
somely" by her. 

Walking along the Strand to keep the 
appointment he ran across a man he had 
met in North Bank. As a rule he passed 
Mr. Sudlow with a careless nod, but on 
this occasion he stopped and, with hands 
plunged deep in his pockets and hat tilted 
back from his forehead, said : 

" Heard if Chelston is out of danger ? " 
" I didn't know he was in any danger." 
" Didn't you really ? Awful smash — mare 
bolted with him the very day after he went 
down into Yorkshire ; he was picked up for 
dead, so Graceless tells me. Pity, too ! never 
saw a finer horseman. Hope they'll save 
his leg," and Mr. Helsey, who was waiting 
for a friend, leisurely took his cigar out of 
his mouth and looked at it with a con- 
templative cast of countenance. 

" I am very sorry," remarked Mr. Sudlow. 



330 5 USA^' BE UMMOyn. 

" Sure you are — not half a bad fellow., 
Clielston. No one's enemy but liis own. 
That was a bit of a bother up at North 
Bank, wasn't it ? " 

" I have not heard — " 

" Why bless my soul, you know nothing, 
and I thought you were hand and glove there, 
not but what Graceless said lone: ^2fo he 
believed you meant to cry off. You are just 
as safe too, perhaps. Shouldn't care for 
Clielston for a father-in-law myself, and 
though the girl is quiet and demure enough, 
still where there has been an^'thing with the 
mother I think its risky work. Jlliat I you 
don't mean to tell me you never knew that, 
I wouldn't have spoken onl}^ I made sure 
you knew all about it. I believe Lady 
Clielston was as little in fault as a woman 
■ever can be when she goes off with somebody 
— not her husband. It was a hard blow for 
the Gayres ; the old man never really held up 
Jiis head after it. Ah ! here comes Jennings, 



AXYTHiyG BUT PLEASAXT. 331 

Hope Clielston will pull through all right. 
Ta-ta." 

Mr. Sudlow did not pursue his walk east- 
ward — instead, he dispatched a curt note to 
Lombard Street saying he could not call, 
and giving no hint wlien it might suit his 
convenience to do so. The note reached Mr. 
Oayre before he left the city — he kept very 
different hours from what had formerly been 
his wont, and he decided to take Mr. Sudlow 
on his way home. 

"I have come to have some talk with you, 
Sudlow," he said, " about my niece." 

"Yes, Mr. Gayre." 

" I consider matters are in a very unsatis- 
factory state between you — and as her father 
has left her in my charge I want to come to 
a, thorough understanding with you on the 
subject." 

" What is it you wish to know ? " 

" First, when the settlements are to be signed 
— next, when the marriage is to take place." 



332 ,S- US AN DB UMMOXD. 

Mr. Sudlow hesitated — lie didn't like Mr. 
Gayre's tone, and he liked the look of Mr. 
Gayre's clenched hand laid firmly upon the 
table still less. There was very little of the 
banker about that hand, and there was a 
great deal too much of the cavalry officer. 
At that moment the old Adam was very 
strong in Mr. Gay re. He had a fierce 
desire to quarrel with somebody, and he 
felt he would rather quarrel with Mr. Sud- 
low than am^ other human beino\ 

" I am waiting for your answer," he said. 

" You are very imperative," Mr. Sudlow 
replied, " what is the cause of all this sudden 
haste ? " 

" There is nothing sudden about the 
matter. The affair has been at a stand-still 
for months. On one paltry pretence and 
another you have managed to put ofi* the 
signing of these settlements from autumn to 
spring, and we are no further forward now 
than we were in the autumn." 



AyyTmsG but pleas ant. s^^ 

" That is true, and I fear we shall never 
get any further forward." 

" What the devil do you mean, sir?" asked 
Mr. Gayre. 

" Just what I sav. It is of no use trvini^ 
to bully me, Mr. Gayre. I don't intend 
to sio-n those settlements and I don't mean 

o 

to marry 3^our niece." 

Mr. Gayre sprang from his chair, and Mr. 
Sudlow sprang from his. Just for a moment 
they looked across the table at each other, 
then — 

" Sit down, you coward," said Mr. 
Gayre, " I am not going to strike you. 
Xow, tell me the plain English of all this ? 
What makes you say you will jilt the 
girl?" 

" I was duped into proposing to her." 

" You were what ? " 

" 1 was misled." 

" Who misled you ? " 

*' You must know I had every reason to 



334 S US AX BB VMM OS D. 

suppose lier father was a very different 
person from what I fmd him to be." 

" I know no such thing. From the very 
first, when you woukl insist on being intro- 
duced to my niece, I tokl you in so many 
words her father was a blackleg, a scoundrel, 
and a cheat. If you did not choose to believe 
me — if you would persist in thinking a 
baronet could not fail to be a paragon of 
virtue, the fault was yours, not mine ; but 
you did not think anything of the sort ; 
you have some other reason for wanting to 
back out of your engagement, and I insist 
on your telling me what it is." 

" I always objected to those settlements." 
"Why did you not then refuse to make 
any ? When Sir Geoffrey said you should 
not have his daughter on any other terms, 
why did you not tell him fairly you declined 
to marry her ? You have not acted straight- 
forwardly, Mr. Sudlow ; you have kept shilly- 
shallvincj about the affair till I am tired 



AXYTHIXG BUT PLEAS AST. 335 

of hearing it named. But I intend to put 

matters on a different footin^r. It was com- 

I— 

petent for you once to withdraw your 
offer — but you shall .not do so now. I 
mean you to marry her soon — or else know 
some excellent reason why you won't." 

" It is something outrageous to expect 
me to make such settlements on a girl 
utterly destitute of fortune." 

" It would be something outrageous if a 
girl possessed of any fortune were wilUng 
to marry youy 

" Xow it is of no use takins' that tone 
with me, ]\Ir. Gayre, I won't stand 
it." 

" Youll have to stand it and a good deal 
more before you have done with me," 
retorted Mr. Gayre. " And as we are upon 
the topic, I tell you fairly that if my niece 
had not been as selfish, calculating, and 
worldly as yourself, I should never have 
thought of letting her marry you. In most 



336 SUSAX DnuMMoyn. 

respects you 'will, however, be admirably 
matched." 

" We never shall be matched," interrupted 
Mr. Sudlow. 

"We'll see about that," said Mr. Gayre. 

" I should have married Miss Chelston 
lonof ago," remarked Mr. Sudlow, " if vou 
would have made some suitable provision 
for her, but I am now (|uite determined 
to break off the affair entirely." 

" I know, then, what I shall do," and Mr. 
Oayre took up his hat — 

" I have been kept most shamefully in 
the dark. It was by the merest chance I 
heard there had even been a scandal about 
Lady Chelston — and — " 

" Oh ! that's it, is it ? " and Mr. Gayre 
laid down his hat — " you had better think 
twice about what you purpose doing, my 
friend. When this matter comes into court, 
as come into court it shall, it will be plea- 
t^ant for you to hear counsel state that the 



ASYTHiyG BUT PLEASAXT. 337 

individual who makes an old story about a 
woman, who had such excuse as wife living 
never could urge before, whose husband 
never brought a charge against her, who 
condoned her error, who laid her amongst 
his own people, the pretext for refusing 
to marry her daughter — is the grandson of 
a felon, transported for life for robbery and 
attempted murder." 

"How dare you state such an infamous 
lie ? " 

" Lie is a nasty word, but we will let that 
pass. I always knew your grandfather had 
been a convict, but I did not know the full 
measure of his crimes till I came the other day 
upon all the papers connected with the 
afifair. The public will find the story very 
excitino' and entertainino- readino-. I have 
nothing more to say now, except that I shall 
be glad if you will remove your account to- 
morrow, and transfer your securities to the 
keeping of some other banker. You objected 

Vol. iii. 65 



338 SUSAN DBUMMOXB, 

to employing any solicitor over those settle- 
ments — I should advise you to look out for 
some sharp lawyer now, for you will require 
one before you have done with me — Good 
evening." 

As he walked up Wimpole Street, Mr. 
Gay re felt conscious that he was extremely 
tired, and needed a long night's sound rest ; 
but the day's work was not yet over. He 
had scarcely sat down to dinner before 
Eawlings announced that Mr. Colvend 
wished to see him particularly. 

"He will wait, Colone,l" said the man. 
'' He said you were on no account to disturb 
yourself." 

When Mr. Gayre entered his library he 
found ithe poor old man sitting in a listless 
attitude, with head drooped and hands 
clasped together between his knees. 

" You must forgive me for coming so late," 
he began ; " but — " and there he stopped : 
Twice he tried to finish his sentence and 



ASYTHiyG BUT PLEASAXT. 339 

failed, and then fairly giving way, he covered 
his face and cried like a child. 

" What is the matter — wliat has happened," 
asked Mr. Gayre. 

" It is my daughter, my poor Dossie. She 
has had l^rain fever — she has been dreadfully 
ill," moaned Mr. Col vend, in a series of 
gasping sobs — " Ijut that is not tlie worst of 
it. Oh, Mr. Gayre ! have pity upon me. I am 
afraid what that scoundrel Fife said was too 
true. There is no doubt she was fond of 
Dane and that the trouble unsettled her 
reason— my unfortunate girl — my dear, dear 
little Dossie." 

"I am very sorry indeed for you," and Mr. 
Gayre did feel most truly sorry for the 
wretched father. 

" Yes, it is an awful business," went on Mr. 
Colvend, wiping his eyes and trying to speak 
calmly. "Awful, only to think of that young 
fellow, and of that poor brave girl who stuck 
to him through all — I dont know what to 

65—2 



340 SUSAN DRUMMOND. 

do. How is this wrong ever to be set right. 
Though she is my daughter, an innocent man 
must not continue to suffer for her fault. 
Would to God, Surlees had never given Dane 
in charge ! The prosecution was quite against 
my wish. The doctors do not think she will 
ever recover her reason." 

" Under the circumstances that is perhaps^ 
scarcely to be regretted," said Mr. Gayre. 

" Just the remark Dr. Foynson made ;. 
but oh ! there is no living; creature can tell 
what this has been to me ; ever since the 
terrible truth was forced upon me, I have 
thought about that unhappy young man till 
it seemed as though I should go mad 
myself." 

" I do not imagine if you join with me 
there can be much difficulty now in pro- 
curing his release." 

" I will do anything and everything in my 
power. The cause of this frightful illness 
was that Fife came to the house and told 



AyYTHIXG BUT PLEAS.iyT. 341 

Dossie, as all other means of clearing Dane 
seemed unavailablejie meant to give himself up. 
He frightened the poor little thing to death, 
said her letters to him would be read in 
court. Wlien I got home I found her in the 
most dreadful state of mind ; of course I did 
not believe she was in fault then, any more 
theii I believe Fife's statement that night you 
came to see me at Brighton ; but I can't 
blind myself any longer ; she had never 
been crossed before, and she lacked strength 
of mind to bear up under the trouble of 
knowing Dane was in love with someone else. 
Why couldn't he have fancied my darling? — 
I'd have given her to him, poor child I She 
was all I had — and now — " 

" Gone mad, has she ? " commented ^Ir. 
Fife, when ^Ir. Gayre subsequently repeated 
the substance of Mr. Colvend's statement to 
that individual. " Don't you believe a word 
of it ; she's not the sort to go mad. I daresay 
she has had a touch of brain fever, but it 



342 S US AX BR UMMOXD. 

would puzzle a wiser man than Doctor 
Foynson to tell where temper ended and 
fever began. If they mean to get Dane 
out, though, without any fuss or publicity, I 
shall be well enough content now ; I am 
going to turn over a new leaf and I think I 
would rather not turn it before a magis- 
trate." 

" It is a great pity you do not turn over 
a new leaf," said Mr. Gayre, " for you cer- 
tainly are exceedingly clever." 

" And trustworthy," added Mr. Pife, " that 
little matter of the cheque, notwithstanding. 
Oh, I forgot to mention, Mr. Sudlow was at 
the bank three times to-day while you were 
out. He wants you to make an appointment 
— he left a message he had something very 
special to say." 

" Did he ? " said Mr. Gayre, scarcely able 
to refrain from smilino-. 



CHAPTEE XIY. 



MR. GAYRE THANKS HEAVEN. 




pGHT ^veeks slipped by so fast that 
2 like the seven years Jacob served 
for Eacliel it seemed but a day, and Mr. 
Gayre, seated one glorious summer's morning 
in his private room at Lombard Street, was 
dreamily reviewing tlie events which had 
occurred since the previous July when a 
letter was brought to him, directed in Sir 
Geoffrey's sprawling handwriting. It was a 
lengthy epistle that Mr Gayre cut open, not 
without some curiosity as to what the 
contents might prove. 

"Dear Gayre" (began the baronet) — 
" Though you never liked me as much 
as I liked you, I fancy you will be glad 



344 -S ^^SAN I)B UMMOyr. 

to know I am at last getting better. 
Whether my leg will ever l^e a good leg, 
it is difficult to tell. The doctors say not — 
which is the reason, I feel inclined to think 
it will. Lord, what a lot they are ! If 
I had followed then- bidding I'd have been 
comfortably tucked up with a spade long 
and long ago ! What do you suppose they 
kept me — me — on for one blessed fortnight — 
you'd never guess — milk in some confounded 
form or other. Gad, I was so weak and 
wasted at the end of that time, when I 
looked down at my hands I thought they 
belonged to somebody else. Eemonstrance 
was not a bit of good. Bless you, a 
fellow that used to come and feel my pulse 
two and three times a day would have 
put a navvy on the same diet as a new- 
born child ! I'd never have picked up 
again if it had not been for the landlady, 
who is as trim and smart an article in 
petticoats as you ever set your eyes on. 



MB. GAYRE THAyXS HEAVEX. 345 

She keeps all the busmess of this house 
going — ostlers, waiters, chambermaids, and 
the whole ^rans: of them. Her husband's 
occupation is dyincr as fast as he knows 
how (the doctors have put liim on milk 
and soda water — ugh ! poor wretch) and 
the only recreation he has strength enough 
left to indulge in is whist. There are gene- 
rally some decent fellows stopping at this 
hotel, so we manage to make up a party 
most evenings. Wliile I was pretty bad 
we were in the habit of playing on my bed, 
.so you see time has not been spent quite 
unprofitably after all. However, as I was 
saying, if it had not been for Mrs. Fitz- 
Hugh, rather a high-flying sort of name 
isn't it P you would never have been troubled 
more, by yours truly — 

" ' For heaven's sake,' I said to her, ' get 
me something fit for a man to drink — not 
cat-lap.' 

" 'But the doctor, Sir Geoffrey.' 



346 SUSAX DBUMMOXD. 

" ' My dear soul,' I expostulated, ' I am 
not a calf — if I were, I have no doubt I 
should relish milk greatly ; being what I 
am, if I don't have some brandy soon, I'll 
not answer for the consequences.' Firmness, 
Gayre — it was firmness saved me. How 
Mrs. F.'s father did laugh to be sure, when 
she told him ; his name is Sponner, and it 
is said he had netted seventy thousand 
pounds by always betting against the favou- 
rite. He's a funny old chap, who can scarcely 
write his name. 'That's a good one,' he 
roared. ' Sir Geoffrey Chelston, the hardest 
rider and the heaviest drinker in Eng- 
land, put into training on kettle tea and 
pap. No — no, my lass, that won't do at 
any price. We'll find him something better 
than that, doctor or no doctor.' 

"You mav imaoine I am prettv comfort- 
able here. I don't exactly know who is 
going to pay the piper, but I rather expect 
Dash wood will stump up. 'Twas his mare, or 



MB. GAYHE THASKS HEAJ'Ey. 347 

rather one lie was tliinking of buying, took 
the notion of trying a race with the wind. 
I never went so fast before, and I suppose I 
may venture to say I never want to go such 
a pace again. All's well that ends well, 
though, as I feel quite sure I could not have 
dropped dnto better quarters. I thought I 
had not much to learn in the matter of horse- 
flesh, but the old gentleman has given me a 
wrinkle or two. 

" I had no doubt but that you would get 
Sudlow to terms. It is a sort of thing far more 
in your line than mine. You don't say how you 
managed to screw him up, but so long as he 
is screwed the modus operandi signifies little. 
Yes, you arrange about the wedding as you 
like. I can't come up for it, but I wrote to 
the Canon to know if he wouldn't tie the 
knot P ' You had best let bygones be 
bygones,' I said, ' peace and goodwill in 
families is both politic and Christian. My 
daughter is making a capital match, and it is 



348 -S US AX DB VMM OX D. 

always prudent to cultivate friendly rela- 
tions with a niece who is well off. Peggy is 
a confoundedly handsome girl — a girl any 
-uncle might be proud of with a rich husband 
at her back,' so to cut a long story short the 
"Canon will officiate, that is, if you like. I said 
I had always kept clear of the faniih^ quarrels, 
water, either cold or liot l^eing a thing quite 
out of my line. 

"^ow the matter rests between you two 
brothers ; just do as you please, it makes very 
little difference to me. Give Peggy my bless- 
ing — I am afraid she won't care for that much, 
but I have nothing else to present her with. I 
<3ertainly think she and Sudlow will run in 
harness very well together. A selfish man 
•ought always to marry a selfish woman. This 
will sound like a mistake, but it works well 
in practice. Entre nous^ it w^ould have been a 
thousand pities to spoil two houses with such 
a pair. There is a hard commercial smack 
about them both that fills me with astonish- 



MR. GAYBE THANKS HEAVEX. 349- 

ment. If Peg had been different she would 
have sent him to the right-about long ago. 
If Sudlow had been different I could have 
hobbled him last summer. 

" What a splendid girl poor, dear Susan 
has proved herself. Fancy her smuggling that 
picture of Delilah out of Hilderton'sstudic. 

" The young hound ! — what a scandalous 
thing to paint my daughter's face in such a 
connection. He meant to exhibit the paint- 
ing somewhere too, and then there would have 
been the deuce and all to pay. I am afraid 
Peg did not act fairly by the lad. She's an 
out-and-out flirt — a dangerous flirt — these 
quiet demure women always are. However, 
she's met with her match in Sudlow. They 
must arrange matters when they are man and 
wife. Meanwhile you and I may thank 
Heaven we are well out of the whole business. 
Directly Peg's matter is settled I shall present 
my petition in bankruptcy. Poor girl, she 
does not know all her father is going through 



350 5 USAX DB UMMOSD. 

for lier sake ! I had thouglit of having Peg 
turned off' at Chelston (the Wookes would 
have been only too delighted to stand a wed- 
ding spread at The Pleasaunce) but second 
thoughts are best and it seemed to me we 
should act prudenth^ (one ought always to 
keep an eye an that future) to play no 
triumphal march while the disgustingly 
woolly sheep, Sudlow, was led up for sacrifice. 

" Besides, the Wookes are total abstinence 
folks and you know what that means when 
the success of a marriage feast is in the 
balance. 

" You have managed splendidly about the 
settlements. In confidence I may tell you, 
if it had been impossible to get Sudlow up 
to the starting post so weighted, I'd have let 
Peg take her chance without any settlements 
at all. After my first London experience 
of her, I knew she would be a most 
difficult vouno' woman to ' run,' and I think 
we both deserve the highest j)raise for getting 



MR. GAYBE TIIAyKS HEAVEN. 351 

her married at all ! My letter has been the 
work of two mornings. Of your charity 
write often, if you can, to this poor ' Exile of 
Erin.' 

" I don't complain. You know I never 
complain ; still there is no denying the fact 
that solitary confinement in the height of the 
London season is rough on 

" Yours faithfully, 

" Geoffrey Chelston. 

^'P.S. — One little suggestion. Don't you 
think it might be well to pay that milliner's 
bill of Peg's? Of course I want to put 
it in my schedule ; but if I do I'm afraid 
Madame Eosalie will apply to Sudlow for 
it, and kick up no end of a row, in the 
event of his Lot paying her, and whether he 
paid her or not he would make things con- 
foundedly unpleasant for the girl. 

" If you agree with me I am sure you will 
do what I can't, namely, settle with Madame K. 



352 SUSAX DBUMMOXD. 

As you are acting so generously about tlie 
bridal rig-out all could be paid under one 
head, and it will be tlie last thing you will 
ever have to do for Peg. Tell Susan, by the 
time her execution morning comes, I mean to 
be well enough to act as father. 

" I am so glad about Dane. As I always 
said no better fellow ever breathed, and from 
the ver}' first I felt sure his innocence would 
be proved. When you are amongst jewellers^ 
I wish you would choose some pretty trifle 
and send it with the enclosed to Susan. I'll 
square that account with you out of the verif 
first bit of luck which comes in my way. 

" G. C." 

Mr. Gayre felt inside the envelope for the 
enclosure mentioned. It proved to be a slip 
of paper on which were written the words,. 
"From Papa Geoff." 

For a short time Sir Geoffrey's brother-in- 
law sat contemplating this epistle Avitli a sort 
amazed admiration. There had been a 



Mn. GAVnE THAXKS HEAVEX. 353 

period when it would have maddened liim, 
but that period was past, and he couki now 
regard Sir GeofTrey dispassionately as a 
person upon whose hke it seemed most 
improbable he should ever look again. 

Besides^ the letter was almost an epitome of 
the events which had occurred within the 
space of little over a year. Was it really 
something less than fifteen months since that 
day when he sauntered idly across the grass in 
Hyde Park, and saw Sudlow leaning over the 
rails? Why, those months seemed to him a 
whole existence. He had nearly lived a life 
in the time. What a sermon it all was on 
the vanity of human hopes, and on the use- 
lessness of mortal projects. What a satire to 
be commissioned by Papa Geoff, to buy a 
wedding gift it was intended he himself should 
pay for, to present to the woman he loved! 

" I thought to manage Sir Geoffrey," he 
considered, " and Sir Geoffrey has managed 
me. I wonder if he will outwit his new 

Vol. iii. 66 



354 S USAN BE UMMOXD. 

friend Mr. Sponner. Xotliing more likely. 
And what about Mrs. Fitz-Hugh when Mr. 
FitzHugh goes out of business, and relin- 
quishes whist and leaves her a widow? 
Humph," and Mr. Gayre, lighting a match, 
applied it to the baronet's letter and watched 
the precious missive burn to dust on the 
hearth. 

Whatever his faults, and he had many, the 
banker was not really mean. All his instincts 
led him to loyalty, for which reason he did not 
docket and pigeon-hole his brother-in-law's 
epistle and consider " This may prove useful 
some day." 

What he did, however, consider was that he 
wished he had not to go to Chislehurst in 
order to spend a " nice, quiet, comfortable 
afternoon." He was forced to spend many 
such afternoons at The Warren and they 
filled his soul with a terrible despair. Wliat 
should he do when he was married and life 
became a series of such^ afternoons ? Already 



MR.GAYRE THAXKS HEAVEX. 355 

Susan was avenged. Never had slie slirunk 
with greater liorror from the idea of passing 
existence with him than he recoiled from 
the notion of spending the years " fev>- and 
evil " which might be in store for him with 
Mrs. Jubbins. 

It was the old Brunswick Square business 
over again. She had changed the venue, 
but the pleadings were the same. He never 
for half-an-hour too:ether o'ot out of the 
Jones, Brown and Robinson set. Deputy 
Pettell and others of that connection literally 
:8warmed upon the carpet. Their houses, 
their furniture, their carriages, their servants, 
their friends, their parties, their travels, their 
sayings, their doings — was he never, till death 
brought peace, to hear any other sort of 
conversation? Talk of moulding Mrs. Jub- 
bins ! He might as well have thought of 
making her a girl again or of cutting down 
]ier goodly proportions to the airy symmetry 

of a Hebe! Endurance was the only thing 

66-2 



356 -S' US AX DB UMMOXD. 

left for him, and to do Mr. Gayre justice he 
did bear the eternal flow of talk about 
nothing with saint -like equanimity. He had 
sold himself for a mess of pottage and he 
would have to wear the chains of his 
captivity, though they galled his flesh and ate 
into his very soul. Already there had been a 
few differences of opinion, in all of which 
Mrs. Jubbins marched off the field with a 
grand composure in the character of con- 
queror. She would have felt greatly sur- 
prised had anyone told her she was or 
wanted to be a conqueror ; she honestly 
believed she was deferring to Mr. Gayre in 
all things. It is diflicult for a woman whose 
first husband has made an idol of her, 
and whose widowhood has proved a long 
career of doing exactly what she liked, to 
understand her ways and ideas or even her 
manners and habits can possibly be uncon- 
genial to any one who wishes to marry her. 
Mrs. Jubbins had fallen into the not 



3/7?. GAYEE THAXKS HEAVEX. 357 

uncommon mistake of imagining that all she 
did, and all she had, stood far above the 
vulgar height, where holes could be picked 
in either her doinsfs or belonerino-s. She had 
her own notions and of course those notions 
were right. She had her possessions and 
those possessions in her opinion were 
precisely the proper possessions. She wished 
to live in town, and as a natural consequence 
it was ridiculous to suppose Mr. Gayre could 
really prefer the country. He knew nothing 
about the country, and she did ; she had 
lived in it for a whole year and was deadly 
tired of it ; he had not lived in it at all, if 
he had he would be tired of it too. This 
was Mrs. Jubbins mode of reasoning, and it 
is unnecessary to state that the result of 
discussinof future arranorements with Mr. 
Oa}Te invariably ended in his apparent con- 
version to her views ; considering what Mrs. 
Jubbins had done for him he would have 
been most ungrateful to insist he had any 



358 SUSAy DBUMMOyj). 

riglit to maintain his own opinions, but the 
banker sometimes thought he should like to 
. know whether he might ever be permitted 
to have an opinion at all. It was very well 
for Mrs. Jubbins to say, as she did say con- 
tinually, " I want to consult you." But it was 
scarcely so agreeable to find that these 
consultations meant well-nigh interminable 
talks about what the lady wanted to do. 

Mr. Gayre knew perfectly well no better 
nor kinder woman than Mrs. Jubbins, so far 
as her light went, ever existed, but he also 
knew she would wear, and was indeed wear- 
ing, him to death. 

There were thino-s about her which re- 

o 

minded him constantly of his father. He could 
not forget the monotonous round of small 
interests, petty details, contemptible gossip, 
and narrow ideas which made Brunswick 
Square more irksome to him than narrow 
cell ever seemed to prisoner. Then he 
could not say, "My mind to me a kingdom 



MB. GAYEE THASKS HEAVEX. 359 

is," for he often felt liis mind was stultifying 
while he listened to the even flow of babble 
that did duty for conversation in Mrs. 
Jubbins' house. 

Could he face the prospect of being 
cooped up in a town house with that eternal 
trickle of twaddle always running through 
his ears ; with the Pettells, and the Jones, and 
others of the same ilk, for his only home 
society ; with his old friends banished to 
his club — for he could not— no, he felt he 
could not — invite men whose ideas were 
cosmopolitan, who had travelled, and thought, 
and read, and seen life, understanding the 
phrase in its best and widest sense ; to 
come and listen to discussions concerning 
the amount Mr. Eobinson's " mansion " at 
Walton had cost to build, or the question- 
able taste of Mrs. Brown, who having been 
taken up by a" grand High Church set," had 
so far forgotten what her poor papa's ideas 
of Popery were, as to go to early service 



36o S US AX DE UMMOyD. 

and walk about the West End clad in 
hodden grey, and wearing a close bonnet 
made of brown straw, just as if she were 
the wife of a clerk in the receipt of thirty 
shillings a week. 

Further he could not disofuise the fact that 
antagonistic as Mrs. Jubbins might be to him, 
she was beginning to feel him even more 
antagonistic to her. 

Honestly, he meant to make her an excel- 
lent husband ; but he had no intention of 
being a foolish one I At the first offset it 
was clearly understood marriage should not 
be thought of till sufficient time had elapsed 
to enable him to release his own capital, and 
finally put matters between him and his 
future wife on some business and tangible 
footing. For a time this arrangement worked 
admirably but it could not last for ever, and 
with dismay Mr. Gayre found himself ex- 
pected to play the part of lover to a lady he 
had known ever since she wore short frocks. 



MIL GAYRE THAyKS HEAVEN. 361 

and blue saslies — and wliom lie should cer- 
tainly have thought old enough to know 
better. Something of the awe she formerly 
felt for him still remained ; but it was wearing 
away. No later tlian the occasion of his last 
visit to Chislehurst, she entered through the 
open window near which he was seated in 
order to ask him some question, and in the 
most simple and natural manner came behind 
his chair, put a hand on each shoulder and 
called him " dear'' 

Mr. Gayre thought of this experience with 
a shudder. He recalled the sudden chill her 
action had sent through him, and earnestl}^ 
trusted the 2^ood, ij^enerous soul felt nothingf 
of the deadly tremor which for a mom.ent 
turned his strength into weakness. 

He could not draw back now. In honour, 
in common honesty, he was forced to go on. 
As long as he could make the woman who 
trusted him happy and content, what did it 
signify how wretched he felt ? He had been 



362 S US AX DH UMMOXD. 

placed in a sore strait — on the one side lay 
tlie Scylla of poverty, on tlie other the 
Charybdis of an uncougenial marriage. 

Matrimony was the only interest Mrs. 
Jubbins Avonld have accepted and that he 
could haye offered for the use of her fortune. 
Yes, looking back he could see no other 
course possible for him to pursue. Giyen 
that he dared not face bankruptcy, no 
resource remained but to marry the relict 
of Mr. Jubbins. The position did not bear 
thinking about, so deciding not to think about 
it Mr. Gayre put aside his papers and started 
for Chislehurst, 

He found Mrs. Jubbins arrayed in a yer}^ 
pretty summer dress, which did not become 
her in the least. Susan or his niece would 
haye looked loyely in it ; but the soft flo^y 
of the light material, and the cunnino- 
interlacing of delicate colours, were death 
to Mrs. Jubbins' mature charms. Neyer- 
theless, he had to say something about her 



MB. GAYPiE THjyKS HEAVES. 363 

attire, and he spoke a few words of compli- 
ment with such grace as he could assume. 
That was the first event of an afternoon 
he will never forget as long as he keeps 
his memory. From the first moment things 
went on steadily chafing his spirit and 
finally i^ducing such a state of irritability, 
that finally addressing one of Mrs. Jubbins' 
young people in a tone of sharp decision, 
he said, " Don't be so rude, sir.'"' Mrs. 
Jubbins' offspring were, as a rule, extremely 
rude — but no one had ever ventured to tell 
them so before, and the lad stared at 
the banker ere, turning on his heel, he 
walked out of the room, whistling defiantly. 
Mrs. Jubbins looked at Mr. Gayre, and 
Mr. Gayre looked at Mrs. Jubbins — but 
neither spoke. The boy had been offensively 
impertinent ; even a mother's partiality 
couldn't deny that fact. Mr. Gayre regretted 
his hasty speech, but felt he ought not to 
apologize. He waited for Mrs. Jubbins to 



364 SI'S Ay BBl'MMOyD. 

make some remark, but to liis surprise and 
relief slie took no verbal notice of what 
liad occurred. 

Instead, she began to talk of The Warren, 
and her wish to return to town. 

''I have been thinking," she said, "that 
I should like to take a house somewhere 
in the Kensington direction. I do not 
care much for Palace Gardens, though the 
houses there are good, and of course it is 
nice to look out on the Park. I prefer 
Campden Hill. I really do not think I 
should object to Campden Hill." 

" You have quite decided, then, not to 
return to Brunswick Square ? " 

" Quite — the neighbourhood, you see, has 
so altered its character. Besides, the 
lease has not long to run, and I feel sure 
Mr. Motten would be glad to take it for 
the remainder of my term." 

"And I had a letter this morning from 
an old Indian friend, who is coming home 



MB. GAl'BE THANKS HEAVEN. 365 

on leave for eighteen months, asking me 
to look out a place for him within twelve 
miles of town. The Warren would, I know, 
suit him exactly." 

" I am so glad. I have taken it on for 
another year, and 1 should not like to 
be under two rents." 

" That is a thing to be avoided, certainly," 
and then there ensued another silence. Mr. 
Gayre felt he was spending a very quiet 
afternoon indeed. 

" Shall we take a turn through the 
grounds ? " asked Mrs. Jubbins, " the gar- 
dens are looking beautiful. As Mrs. Gibson 
was saying only yesterday, they do Hol- 
ditch very great credit indeed." 

As he had observed, a score of times 
before, Mr. Gayre again observed there could 
be no doubt but that Holditch understood 
his business. 

'• I must just get a parasol, so we may as 
well go through the hall," and accordingly 



366 S US AX DB UJIMOXD. 

tliey passed through the hall, where Mr. 
Gayre had seen Susan sitting amongst the 
iiowers on that night which seemed so long 
and long ago. 

As thouo^h she had known of what he was 
thinking Mrs. Jubbins, directly they got upon 
the gravelled walk leading down the hill-side 
on wdiich the gardens lay, began, 

" That dear Miss Drummond was here 
the other day ; she came to say good-bye." 

" Why, where is she going ? " asked Mr. 
Oayre. 

" To her cousin's, to the place where she 
spent her girlhood. She is to be married 
from there ; did you not know ? " 

" I did know something of it, but I had 
forgotten. How is she looking ? " 

"-' Radiantly happy; poor thing, I am so 
sorry for her ! " 

"Sorry! Why?" 

" Oh, because she icill marry that young 
man, and what can be in store for her but 



MB. GAYRE THANKS HEAVEX. 367 

misery. Xobody will ever believe in liis 
innocence, and even supposing lie had been 
innocent when he was sent to that dreadful 
place, how can he be fit for any nice woman 
to associate with after livino^ amono' thieves 
and murderers and, as Deputy Pettell calls 
them, the very scum of the population ? " 

" I do not think we need discuss that 
question again," suggested Mr. Gayre, who 
had heard it discussed till he was tired. 

" Then they have so little money ; no- 
thing, I assure you, but the trifle she has 
left out of her own small fortune." 

"They have a great deal of love, 
though." 

"But, good gracious, people can't live 
entirely on love ! and after all I am afraid, 
though I did not say so to her, there is 
much more love on the one side than on 
the other. I shall never feel quite satisfied 
about that business of Miss Colvend. If 
lie had not paid attentions to the young 



368 S US AX DB I'M M 0X1). 

lady, of course, she would never have 
thought of getting so violently fond of 
him." 

" You must understand such matters 
better than I," said Mr. Gayre, humbly. 

" And I have not patience with his folly 
in refusing to accept compensation from 
Mr. Colvend. He says it would look as if 
he were being bought off — like taking hush 
money. So ridiculous ! ' He ought to take 
all he can for your sake, my dear,' I told 
her, but she wouldn't see it. Her cousin 
means to try and get hira an appointment, 
but I suppose he can only expect some 
paltry salary." 

"I rejoice to hear she is looking well 
and happy." 

"Yes, but I am afraid that won't last. She 
spoke very gratefully about you, though 
not so gratefully as I consider she ought, 
considering the enormous trouble you gave 
yourself over Mr. Dane's affair." 



MR. GAYRE THASKS HEAVEX. 369 

"I only wisli I liad been able to do more 
and do it sooner," he answered. " Ah I there 
fifoes Joshua ! Did you see how he turned 
back the moment he saw us ? He hasn't for- 
given me yet for telling him not to be rude." 

"Xo, poor boy ; you see my children have 
never been spoken to in that way." 

" If you really think I went beyond the 
limit of what I ought to have said I suppose 
I ought to apologise." 

"Xo, no, don't think of such a thing," 
said ]\Irs. Jubbius, hurriedly, "you did not 
mean to vex me, only — only — you scarcely 
understand — you have not been accustomed 
to young people and, besides — " 

He looked at her enquiringly, as she paused 
and coloured violently. " I fear I have 
annoyed you even more than I thought," he 
said, " Believe me, I had not the shghtest 
idea ray remark would wound you in any 
way. I am very sorry. You know if there 
be one person in the world whose feelings I 

Vol. iii. 07 



3 7o S USAX DR UMMOXD. 

should consider more than another, that 
person is yourself." 

She made a little sign to ask him to stop ; 
then, all of a sudden turning and beginning 
to retrace her steps, she murmured in a 
voice so low he could scarcely catch her 
tones, 

" I want to speak to you ; let us go and 
sit under the ash trees ; we shall not be 
interrupted there." 

Mr. Gayre assented, wondering greatly. 
He had not understood an inexplicable 
change in her manner, which he noticed from 
the first moment she greeted him. What 
could she be going to say? He racked his 
brain to imagine what had happened. 

Afterwards he remembered each detail of 
that interview, could recall the way the 
sunbeams lay athwart the road ; could see 
the trembling of the leaves, feel again the 
touch of the gentle wind which lightly 
swayed the branches, but just at that moment 



MIL GAYBE THAXKS HEAVEy. 371 

all sense of observation seemed swallowed 
up in amazement. 

" It is no use beating about the bush," 
she began, and her voice was not quite 
steady. "I will tell you at once what I 
have been thinking. AVe must never marry — 
our engagement must end." 

"Why?" he asked. 

"The last two months have been very 
pleasant to me," she went on, unlieeding his 
question ; " one week out of them I may 
say w^as the happiest in all my life. ^\lien 
I look back I can never remember a time 
when I did not care for you ; when I was a 
girl you were the hero of my imagination, 
the ideal man of all my girlish dreams." 

He was about to speak but she laid her 
hand on his, as a token she did not want him 
to do so. 

" When I was left a widow and my mother 
told me your fatlier wished you and me to 
marry I felt life almost too happy ; I forgot 

67—2 



372 S US AN BE UMMO^D. 

my dead husband and all he had done for 
me and mme, and thought of you and you 
only. I am not ashamed to tell you this 
now," she proceeded, after the slightest 
break ; " because it is all past and done with ; 
we will, I hope, be good friends for ever ; 
but I have thought matters over, and know 
it is best we should be nothing more." 

"May I again ask you why — I shall not 
try to influence your decision, but if not 
disa<?reeable, I wish vou would tell me 

CD ' ./ 

the causes which have induced you to 
arrive at it." 

" I will tell you as well as I can. First 
of all, the conviction has been growing 
upon me, for a long time, that we were 
unfitted for each other-^it is no sudden 
fancy of mine — that we should never be 
quite happy together. You have your 
notions and I have mine, and we could not 
make them agree. Even in upholstery, 
the things I like you don't like — and it is 



MB. GAYPiE THASKS HEAVEX. 373 

the same in other matters. That we iiiight 
o-et over thoui>-h ; but what I never could 
get reconciled to is that you do not care 
for me — really. If you ever had cared for 
me you would have said so, years ago — " 

" Passionate attachment," he urged, "can 
perhaps scarcely be expected from a man 
of my age— but — " 

"Yes, I understand all that," she inter- 
rupted, " but I should not feel satisfied. 
I know now, why, at times, lately I have 
been so unsettled and miserable — yes, 
miserable — even while I believed myself 
happy- — but there is more still. I have 
yet another reason — " 

" I must indeed be a heinous criminal," 
he remarked, with a faint smile. 

" Xo," she said, " you are not to blame 
at all, the fault is entirely my own. I 
have no right to marr}^ — anybody. My 
husband left me in charge of a great trust, 
and I ouglit to try to be worthy of it. 



3 74 S USA X DR UMMOyj). 

How could I do justice to liis cliildren and 
to you. I never thought of marrying any- 
body but you — and I shall never think of 
marrying again. I mean to live for my 
sons and my daughters, and to be what 
your father once said I was — a faithful 
steward." 

" It is perhaps quite as well, then, that I 
spoke to Joshua as I did to-day; otherwise, 
you might not liave found out your duty 
till it was too late," said Mr. Gay re. 

" Yes, I should. I had found it out, and 
what do you think shovred it to me ? " 

'• I would really rather not hazard any 
conjecture." 

"Miss Drummond." 

''Why, what did she say?" 

" She said nothing, except two words. 
I'll tell you lioAv it happened. When we 
were talking together, and she Avas speak- 
ing about how happy she was, I could not 
lielp telling her I was very happy too. I 



MIL GAYRE THAXKS HEAVES. 375 

forgot, for the moment, you and I had agreed 
to let no one know how affairs stood for 
the present— and I went on — ' I am gomg 
to marry a man I have loved all my life; 
your friend, Mr. Gayre.' I assure you, it 
slipped out quite accidentally." 

" Yes, and then — " 

She repeated " J//\ Gayre!'' just like 
that, in an incredulous sort of tone — yet still 
IS if she was shocked — and I shall never 
:brget the look in her face, hke some one who 
30uld scarcely believe her ears. Then she 
recovered herself and said, prettily, she wished 
us all sorts of liaj)piness — but the wa}' she 
cried out Mr. Gayre, and her startled 
expression, have haunted me ever since. I 
could not close my eyes last night, I felt 
so wretched, and then when you spoke to 
* Joshua as you did, I knew it was best we 
should (consider everything at an end. As 
for the money, don't trouble yourself about 
that — keep it as long as you like — I always 



376 S US Ay Dli UMMOXD. 

knew you would not wrong me or my 
children of a penny — but lending money is 
one thing and marrying another ; and noAV say 
you are not angry with me, and that we shall 
neyer cease to be friends?" 

'•Mrs. Jubbins, I neyer respected or ad- 
mired you so much as I do at this moment 
— and I shall always be your deyoted friend," 
said Mr. Gayre — and it is only right to adc 
he spoke from his heart. 

" Eelief ! " Was that any word to express 
the load taken from his heart ? As he r^ 
turned to town that nioht he felt yer\ 
humble, yery penitent, yery thankful. 
" Heaven has been more merciful to me 
than I deserye," he thought, and who can 
deny but that there was a considerable 
amount of truth in the observation. 



CHAPTER XV. 



COXCLUSIOX. 




|H1TSUXTIDE 1877. May once again, 
:5? for the third time, since that 
morning when Mr. Gayre stood beside 
the raiUngs in Hyde Park, and watched 
Margaret Chelston's meeting with the 
"fairest of fair women." 

London was virtually deserted. On the 
previous Saturday London had dispatched 
lier hundreds, and tens of hundreds, her 
millions, indeed, into the quiet country, to 
the seashore, and the continent. On 
Monday morning there was not a street 
situated hi as low and poor neighbourhood 
a district visitor could name, but found 
means to raise enouo'h monev to charter 



378 S US AX nil UMMOSD. 

some sort of conveyance and proceed behind 
wretched horses that mnst long previonsly 
Iiave learned to curse the sound of a 
cornopean, to such places of resort as 
represent fun and fashion to the excursionist 
mind. The great Metropolis was like a 
city of the dead. Round and about the 
Eoyal Exchange many commercial corpses 
lay awaiting burial, but the ceremony being 
(^ompulsorily delayed till after Bank Holiday, 
the men whose cheques and bills had 
been dishonoured were waitim? in sub- 
urban villas and great West End mansions, 
for some miracle to happen in tlie interval 
which should enable tliem to begin the 
struggle of lousiness life afresh on tlie 
Tuesday folio vdng Pentecost. 

In the streets scarcely a human being 
was to be met with — cabmen recognising a 
possible fare afar off hailed him with 
effusion : a few country cousins wandered 
four abreast along the pavements without 



COyCL USIOS. 379 

getting " shouldered " for tlieir pains ; lads 
who had no pennies wherewith to pay 
train or tram fares, tied white woollen 
.scarves tightly round tlieir throats, and started 
to walk for the nearest places where stickle- 
iDacks could be fished for, or the pleasing 
.sport of seeing starved donkeys being 
thrashed by brutes armed with heavy 
sticks witnessed. Scarce a soul was abroad. 
The better classes wlio were forced to 
remain in town kept close within doors ; 
on the railways all distinctions of class 
were virtually abolished ; it was possible 
to walk from Temple Bar to Ludgate 
Circus down the middle of the horse-road'; 
the West End conveyed a pleasing impression 
of rustic seclusion ; men walked to their 
clubs as if a large balance of the seventy 
allotted years remained in which to stroll 
along the shady side of the street ; in the 
home counties rhododendrons and early roses, 
hawthorn, laburnum, lilac, a thousand wild 



38o >S USAy DB VMMOSD. 

flowers — yellow buttercups, meek-eyed daisies 
springing grass — girt London round with a 
natural belt of emerald green, gemmed by 
a thousand stars of divine hues, such as no 
astronomer, no jeweller, ever, out of his own 
consciousness, could have imagined. 

In the hedgerows, by the wayside, flowers 
were springing, blooming, dying. It was an 
early year, and in London a May sun posi- 
tively beamed upon its inhabitants. There 
were not many belonging to the better con- 
dition of life remaining to be beamed on ; 
still one man, well-considered and reputed 
to be wealthy, was walking down Duke 
Street, St. James', on his way to Victoria 
Station. 

The quietest of quiet pedestrians, the 
sedatest of sedate gentlemen ! Certainly not 
very young, presumably not very old, a clean- 
cut, closely-shaved, military-looking sort of 
person, who might have been anybody, from 
peer to poet, but wlio happened to belong 



coycLusioy. 381 

neither to the Upper Ten nor to the dear 
Bohemia. 

Suddenly the silence of the West End 
street was rent with, 

"Gayre, Gayre I Hillo ! Hillo I " and 
Gayre, for so the gentleman was named, 
turning round, beheld a figure on the 
opposite side of the way, making frantic signs 
for him to stop. 

" Ah ! you remember me," this individual 
said, as they shook hands in the middle of 
the horse-road. " Gad, you are lookino' well. 
Years, I vow, run by and leave you younger." 

" Why, Sir Geoffrey, I did not expect to 
meet you here." 

" And, by Jove, I did not expect to meet 
you. Just see here, Gayre," and the baronet 
affectionately passed his arm through that of 
his brother-in-law, as if they were the dearest 
of dear friends, "I swear it is like water in a 
thirsty land to look on your pleasant face 
again. I am glad to have even this glimpse 



382 SUSAX I)R UMMOyD. 

of YOU. I called at Sudlow's, but, faitli, I 
found sucli cold welcome there I was glad 
to return to mine inn." 

" They are not a very genial pair, cer- 
tainly." 

" N'o, but you remember what I always 
said. I mayn't be a very sharp fellow, 
but I'm the very deuce in the wa}' of 
prophecy. I always knew they would suit 
each other to a T. Lord, how she did go 
on about my marriage." 

" ' You hold your tongue, my girl,' I said, 
' there was trouble enough to get you 
married.' That shut Iter up." 

" And how is your wife ? " asked Mr.. 
Gay re. For . answer his brother-in-law 
pulled a newspaper from his pocket — 
smoothed it carefully over his knee — turned 
to the first page, folded it up so as to leave 
the " births " outside, and pointed out one 
especial paragraph for perusal. 

The paragraph ran thus — 



coycLusiox. 38^ 

"At Brockborougli, near Doncaster, the 
-wife of Sir Geoffrey Chelston, Baronet, of 
a son and lieir." 

" It is all their own composition," explained 
the happy father. " Gad, I Trish they'd make- 
me an heir, but I'm nobody now, of course. 
I came up to town to be clear of the fuss.. 
Old Sponner is just out of his senses with 
delight at being grandfather to an embrya 
baronet." 

"I am sure I congratulate you all very 
heartily." 

"It's more than Peggy did. I said, 'It's 
of no use your turning up your nose; you'd 
better by far be civil to the young stranger. 
He is born with a silver spoon in his mouth. 
He'll have lots of money when he comes of 
age. Old Sponner swears he shall have all 
his money, and his mother says j<hell see I 
have no chance of touching it. By-the-bye,. 
I stopped a night at Susan s on my way up. 
She's got a jolly little girl, and she is prettier 



384 S us AX DR UMMOSD. 

than ever — and as foi' Dane — lie's fairly 
crazy about her. You'd think no man ever 
owned a wife l)efore. She's just the same as 
she used to be, only a little quieter. I think 
she can't quite forget all that trouble. She 
is the best creature ! She persuaded Lai 
Hilderton to leave London, and he lives in a 
cottage on the estate, with Sue's old nurse 
to cook his meals and mend his socks. He's 
doing real good work, I hear — don't profess 
to care for that sort of tliino' mvself! 
Weren't you surprised to hear Dane had got 
his grandfather's property? Good job the 
miserly old sinner could never make up liis 
mind to sign a will. Well, they are a very 
happy pair — as happy a pair as 3'ou'd wish 
to see. I often wonder you never married, 
Gayre, but perhaps you're as well as you are 
— women as a rule are a confounded lot of 
trouble." 

"I am sorry you think so, for I have 
asked one to take care of me." 



coycL i\^ioy. 385 

" Who is it— Mrs. Jubbins ? " 

" Mrs. Jubbins will never marry anybody. 
Xo, this is the daughter of a man wlio was 
my superior officer when I first entered the 
army. She is a charming girl, or ratlier 
woman, for she is nearly thirty, and 
I hope and believe we are exactly suited to 
each other. Her father leaves for India 
before the end of the summer, and then we 
shall take up our residence permanently at 
The Warren. You recollect Mrs. Jubbins' 
j^arty there ? " 

"Eather," said Sir Geoffrey. " Well, I'm 
heartily glad to hear this, my boy — and when- 
ever you're ready, only let me know and I'll 
'•ome and look you up. Gad. you've decided 
on a sweet place. I am more pleased than I 
<:an tell you to think you are going to live 
at The Warren — always thought that dear 
good creature, Mrs. Jubbins, was the wrong 
thing in the right place there. Money's 
not everything — that's what I say a dozen 

Vol. iii. 68 



386 SUSJX DEUMMOXD. 

times a week ; but I can't get tlie set I've 
got mixed up with to believe me." 

" You have quite recovered from your 
accident ? " 

" Yes, quite, thank you — leg's a bit stiff still, 
but I can ride as well as ever, Heaven be 
praised — don't know what would become of 
me if I couldn't. By-the-bye, I was deucedly 
glad to hear you are allowing interest on 
balances now. I can send you lots of ac- 
counts, and I don't want a penny of commis- 
sion. Yes, indeed, it was quite a surprise to 
me to hear some fellows saying, the other day, 
the old Tortoise might chance to outstrip some 
new hares yet. There's Graceless ! I must be 
off. Hi ! Gayre, just one thing more. Mark 
ni}^ words. You'll see that youngster wont be 
able to drink a drop of anything stronger than 
water. I know he'll turn out a regular milk- 
sop. Shouldn't wonder if they make a parson 
of him. The Eeverend Sir Ferdinand Chels- 
ton. Baronet. You'll find that's what it will be 



COXCLUSIOX. 387 

— Ferdinand is liis mother's selection. Well, 
good-bye, don't quite forget me." 

The banker stood looking after Sir 
Geotfrey's retreating figure for a few minutes; 
his legs were a little more bowed and his hat a 
little more on one side than usual, but otlier- 
wise there was no change in his appearance. 

" Forget you " — thought Mr. Gayre as he 
turned away — " Xever ! " 



TtlE END. 



Printed by Kkllv & Co., Gate Street, Lincoln's Inn, & Kings?ton-on-Thames. 

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